Severine is a beautiful young woman married to a doctor. She loves her husband dearly, but cannot bring herself to be physically intimate with him. She indulges instead in vivid, kinky, erotic fantasies to entertain her sexual desires. Eventually she becomes a prostitute, working in a brothel in the afternoons while remaining chaste in her marriage.Written by
James Meek <email@example.com>
The film also generated a great deal of discussion and debate among audiences about its meaning and what scenes were real versus being part of Séverine's fantasies. Luis Buñuel, as usual, didn't feel the need to explain his work, which only added to the film's mystique. This blurring of reality and fantasy, he said, was "what stimulated me to film the story. By the end, the real and the imaginary fuse. I myself cannot tell you what is real and what's imaginary in the film. For me they form the same thing." See more »
Subtitle of a newspaper: 'Harold Tribune' rather than Herald Tribune. See more »
You look bored. Don't let me keep you.
One's never bored in a bar, unlike in a church, alone with one's own soul.
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One of Bunuel's more well-known works; an interesting morality story with Deneuve
Luis Bunuel, notorious for his use of simple, striking, yet un-cannily affecting surrealism in movies, keeps it down to a lower (yet still imaginative) key for Belle Du Jour. This works though because un-like a film like Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie where surrealism was like another character amidst the other character's dreams and nightmares, this one only keeps in surrealism for the sake of the lead character's inner demons poking up through the every-day malaise. This lead, Severine, is played in one of Catherine Deneuve's key career performances, that finds that two-sided-ness she feels while married to her husband Pierre.
She loves him, but there's something that she's not getting out of the marriage that's leaving her empty, aimless, and her fantasies- however in the realm of (dark) fantasy- go to show she needs to do something during the day. She then finds out about a high-class brothel with only a couple of workers already employed. At first reluctant, she gives in to her temptations, serving the odder types of Paris looking for a good time, with one of them, Marcel (Pierre Clementi) falling head over heels for her.
What seemed most intriguing about the film was how Bunuel dealt with the themes- the two crucial ones being morality and sexuality. His imagery is direct, maybe too direct, but it gets its points across with a realism that is alluring and far & away (almost like a satire of such a life). She can't stop what she's started, and she doesn't really know how to end it unless she gets caught.
Then with the sexuality, it's never over-emphasized (i.e. no nudity, outside of a quick couple of shots of nudity), and no one is shown having sex on screen. What comes out is the emotional tally of Severine, the other girls, and the supporting characters that come in and out of the brothel. It may seem dated at moments, and the observatory notes go to making the film seem a tad longer than it is. But never-the-less, Belle de Jour is a worthwhile, memorable effort of the 1960's cinema.
And, at many times, it's quite funny. More than that, a laugh riot.
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