Directed by Luis Buñuel. With Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel,
France 1967, 35mm, color, 101 min. French with English subtitles
Though the most popular of Buñuel’s films from his late French period, Belle de Jour may also be one of the most radical. The film is perhaps as duplicitous as its lovely protagonist Séverine. Appearing to lead a respectable existence with a successful, handsome husband, she behaves icily chaste with patient Pierre in the bedroom while secretly indulging in fetishistic daydreams. Caught between the gaze of saintly Pierre and that of lecherous men like his friend Husson, she begins to lead another life at a nearby brothel. Her sexual and emotional needs may be deeper, stranger and more complex than either man could ever allow in their rigidly circumscribed narratives. Or are they? Belle de Jour is a pristine psycho-cinematic puzzle – imparting to the viewers as much or as little profundity as they are willing to entertain.