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Belle de Jour

Director: Luis Bunuel


No film demonstrates more clearly, or more seductively, than Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour, the cinemas affinity with the state of dreaming. It is not that Bunuels film, made in 1967 and adapted from Joseph Kessel’s (realist) 1928 novel, lacks a narrative. The anecdote it retails concerns the withdrawn wife (Catherine Deneuve, perfectly cast) of a wealthy sugeon (Jean Sorel), who takes to spending her afternoons in a bordello and achieves an awakening of feeling, even a sense of purpose.
For while several of Bunuel’s films contain elements of savagery, his vision is essentially a comic one. The Parisian elegance of this movie’s surface introduces a tone of high comedy, complemented in some of the brothel episodes by a robustness bordering on farce. And the criminals are figures of near parody, perhaps representing Bunuel’s nod to the (then recent) characterisations of the French new wave.

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