Archival Presentations | 1967 | 100 minutes
Stranger Says: If you have seen Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film about a beautiful but bored bourgeois housewife, Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve), who suddenly and secretly becomes a prostitute and has all of her predictable fantasies fulfilled by rough and ready strangers, there is no need to watch it ever gain. But if you have not seen Belle De Jour, you must attend this screening. I do not like Buñuel (too much Freud and not enough Marx in his work), but as a lover of the art of Plato’s cave, I cannot ignore his most acclaimed films. And this is certainly one of them.
SIFF Says:Luis Buñuel, famous for co-writing the disturbing surrealist film UN CHIEN ANDALOU with Salvador Dali in 1929 and wickedly taking down the upper class nearly fifty years later in THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, explores the duality of sadism and shame, fantasy and fidelity, in 1967’s BELLE DE JOUR. Based on the 1928 novel by Joseph Kessel, this erotically charged story follows bored Parisian housewife, Séverine (Catherine Deneuve, THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG), as she makes the fateful choice to become a high-class prostitute while her husband is at work during the day. Achingly aware of the distance between her and her husband, both emotional and physical, Séverine embraces her wild daydreams of fetishistic pleasure, BDSM, and gratification through humiliation. She becomes enchanted by her new life as a call girl at a brothel downtown, finally finding sexual fulfillment and even a risky new relationship with local silver-toothed ruffian Marcel (Pierre Clémenti). However, Séverine’s indulgence doesn’t come without a price, and soon she must decide where to draw the line between real life and her persona as the confident and rebellious “Belle de Jour.” Buñuel’s languid and seductive tale comments on gender relations and the pressures of societal influence, as well as the sweet control one can find in fantasy.
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