Belle de Jour
Luis Buñuel’s provocative classic about a bored and neglected housewife (Catherine Deneuve) risks her reputation to take up a daring new hobby.
Deneuve gives an electrifyingly enigmatic performance as the happily married but bored Parisian who takes to spending her afternoons working at a high-class brothel. Elegance and depravity go hand in hand as Buñuel explores the psychological and moral ambivalence of bourgeois lives – and fantasies.
True to his surrealist roots, Buñuel blurs the distinction between ‘reality’ and Séverine’s masochistic fantasies; he also eschews sensationalism, opting for subtle details all the more intriguing in their ambiguity. Like the production design and costumes, Sacha Vierny’s cinematography and Séverine herself, this provocative classic exudes elegance – but that, Buñuel reminds us, counts for little compared to the inner life…