“Belle de Jour” Review

8 September, 2017

Year of Release: 1967
Director: 
Luis Buñuel
Screenwriter: 
Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière
Director of Photography: 
Sacha Vierny
Cast: 
Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, Pierre Clémenti

Synopsis: A dissatisfied housewife, who spends her days concealing dark fantasies from her husband, joins a brothel where she works as a daytime prostitute; fulfilling her deepest desires while also attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Belle de Jour Review:

A curious classic with a risqué overtone, “Belle de Jour” is a film about daylight reverie and hidden kinks, presenting the Double Life of Séverine in a spattering of unmarked chapters and disrobing its masked lady in stages as masochistic fantasies replace a vanilla and somewhat sexless existence. The da Vinci alternative to the average ‘Fifty Shades’ eye-roller, the movie is far from titillating in a standard context, providing little for the lonely housewife but a lot for the arthouse junkie with scenes made to be unpacked rather than simply gawped at in sensual amazement.

Customary for its era, “Belle de Jour” delights in analysing the self-serving attitudes of the bourgeoisie, presenting a woman of wealth who chooses to become a prostitute for reasons related solely to her own sexual satisfaction. Although depicting a handful of working women alongside its female star, the movie fascinates in Séverine’s misappropriation of sex work, contrasting her submissive demeanour with the loose confidence exuded by the everyday hooker yet crafting the new girl’s allure and appeal around her inability to match the poise of a seasoned prostitute.


Aged like a fine wine with Buñuel’s trademark qualities preserved within an unusually formalised narrative, “Belle de Jour” leaves the line between desire and discomfort purposefully undrawn, capturing something far weightier than the exchange of banknotes as an inexplicable turn of events leads Séverine back into the arms of her husband. Fascinating in its ability to envision its fantasies on both sides of the coin, the film tunnels through both the male and female psyche, finding common ground in outward perversion as a behind-closed-doors transaction comes to reflect a truth unable to be expressed at home.

 

   

Summary
Review Date
Movie
Belle de Jour
Rating
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