B is for Belle de Jour
I'd heard of this movie many years before I watched it just a few days ago. I didn't know much about it except that it was French, starred Catherine Deneuve and was about a housewife turned prostitute.
On my previous visits to the local library I had decided against renting it out even though it was directed by famous and critically acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. However, on my last visit- well there wasn't much left in the B section that I hadn't seen so I consoled myself with the fact that though the "housewife-turned-prostitute" plot wasn't turning me on, seeing something by Buñuel did interest me.
I'd taken a film colloquium in college. Bien sûr, the silent surrealist short "Un Chien Andalou" written and directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, released in Paris in 1929 was a must-see on the syllabus. To say the least, it's a very memorable film. 38 years years later "Belle de jour" is released. 44 years later, I watch the movie.
The beginning is quite shocking, even though- certainly since Buñuel's time- films have become even more shocking and graphic. It looks so simple, somehow innocent until we get a glimpses of what Denueve's character, Séverine Serizy's daydreams are about. Catherine Deneuve plays both characters Séverine and her alter ego Belle with equal coolness and yet an emotional yearning comes through- for both characters. For me it became a double-story, more and more intertwined and in the end... well I don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say, I was glad I saw it. It's a cinematic milestone that francophiles and cinema buffs shouldn't miss.
La photo: Street leading to the gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg with traditional half-timbered houses on one side and flain façades on the other. On all sides, vendors of all types. Strasbourg, France. Août 2010.