Belle du Jour (1967)

Buñuel’s movies tend to show and portrait the obsessions of the Spanish director. More specifically his movies always analyze the deepness of human nature. If “Un chien andalou” focused on the world of the dreams, “Los Olvidados” shows how brute is the human being when lacking any commodity.

But it’s years later when his most interesting films shape up. If México was the place where he told us a story of jealousy in “Él” (He), France was the place he used to place us on the opposite side of the mirror, the one of the wife cheating on the husband.

Using one of the prettiest faces of the moment, “la belle” Deneuve, Buñuel constructs a story of vice and perversion but also of needs and caring love. Because at the end, as Buñuel suggests, there is not so much difference between the jealous man that can and needs to see everything than from the caring man that can’t and doesn’t need to see everything. It’s just a matter of opening or closing your eyes. And that’s Belle du Jour.

Catherine Deneuve plays the fantastic role of a high-class wife that goes to work to a brothel in order to feel closer to her husband. The more dirty she plays, the closer she’ll feel. It’s some kind of bizarre game that, of course, will have its consequences, since Buñuel doesn’t forget about the wife’s origins and what truly means to be a bourgeois. And like in most films of the time, having money goes directly linked to being a liar, an hypocrite and some sort of monster.

Surreal scenes link up with mild sex scenes where Deneuve will discover a new world of vice but also of compassion and real love. Because if one lacks the ability to love others, what could be better than a brothel in order to improve on that? There is just one monster in the whole movie and, ironically, that’s Deneuve’s caring and almost-perfect husband. We all have our ghosts, monsters and hidden voices; perfect figures like him only reveal us how imperfect and bad we are.

Look for Michel Piccoli and Paco Rabal in the cast.

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