Friday, January 24, 2014

BELLE DE JOUR (1967)

I've never sat down and written out a Top 10 Best Movies list, but if I ever was to I'm pretty sure BELLE DE JOUR would be on that list.

Séverine (Catherine Deneuve) is the bored housewife of a young doctor.  She is unable to be intimate with her husband whom she loves.  At the same time she idles her days away dreaming about various sexual fantasies.  Most of them dealing with domination and sadomasochism.  Early on in the film there is a brief shot of an older man feeling up and kissing a terrified little girl.  Could this be Séverine as a child?   Either way, BELLE DE JOUR is a fascinating look at a woman exploring her sexuality, both mentally and physically.

After hearing from a lecherous friend of a friend about a small whorehouse that specializes in more upscale and private adult entertainment Séverine can't stop thinking about it and eventually goes to investigate for herself.  She's nervous, but the wise madam senses that Séverine is the type that needs a forceful hand so she simply leaves her in a room with a regular customer.  Afterwards, Séverine is like a reborn woman.  She much more cheerful around her husband and the more she explores her sexual desires at the brothel the happier she is.  Things change when a dangerous new customer falls in love with Séverine.

BELLE DE JOUR is Bunuel's first film in colour and it's a masterpiece.  The story, the camerawork, the surrealist elements, the acting, the fashions...every time I watch this film I'm enraptured and can't take my eyes off the screen.  Every shot is a masterpiece.  It also doesn't hurt that Deneuve was at her absolute most beautiful during the late 60's.  I cannot recommend this film enough.  Required viewing for anybody interested in world cinema.