Movie Thirty Eight
Belle De Jour is a complicated film for me to discuss. Not because there are plot twists and lots of characters but because the subject matter seems so foreign to me.
The story revolves around a beautiful, rich young woman, Séverine (played wonderfully by Catherine Deneuve) who can not bear to be intimate with her husband. She begins to have fantasies about rape and other extremes and eventually begins spending her afternoons working in a brothel. She is reluctant at first but seems to greatly enjoy it soon after.
What is confusing to me is that many plot synopses describe Deneuve as something of a ‘bored housewife’. She is not bored, this isn’t like an episode of Desperate Housewives or something, this is a serious movie with a female masochist understanding her sexuality. Director Luis Buñuel even gives us several reasons why she is this way through flashbacks. It is still very unusual ground to tread for a movie today, I’m sure it was even more taboo in the 60s.
As best as she tries to keep her day affairs secret, a particularly uncouth client ruins this when he decides he wants Deneuve all to himself. Even if you do not care for her actions, there is lots of tension because you want Deneuve to prevail. There is a point near the end of the film that has a two shots superimposed, one of a building and one of a forest and the camera pans up in one and down in another. It forces a break in what is really happening and what may have happened and we get to see both. It makes the audience wonder what is real and what is fantasy.
After I was finished watching Belle De Jour I didn’t know what to think. Did I like it? Did I hate it? I spent several days thinking about it and in writing about it I have thought about it even more. I would love to sit down and watch the film again to understand its finer points and truly appreciate it. I truly think Belle De Jour requires multiple viewings to make it less complicated.
I give it 4 silver teeth out of 5.