Belle de Jour

Luis Buñuel’s 1967 tale of sexual repression and expression finds supposedly “frigid” newlywed Catherine Deneuve working in a Paris brothel, catering to a variety of fetishists, unbeknownst to her clueless husband. It’s a remarkably weird, funny take on divided consciousness, on the collision between the supposedly normal and the supposedly perverse. Yet for Buñuel (1900-1983), there’s really no such line between kinky and propriety. And the sweetly serene Deneuve (pictured) is just plain beautiful to watch. That we never figure out what makes Séverine itch only makes her that much more alluring. No matter what mode of degradation she chooses, she never looses her enigmatic cool. By being so frank, yet reticent, about her erotic impulses, Buñuel preserves her air of mystery. Which is, of course, why all men desire her so madly. And somewhere you can hear Buñuel laughing at them. Note that Belle de Jour is being paired with week with Manoel de Oliveira’s recent homage, Belle Toujours (seperate tickets, see film section next week), with a new actress in the Deneuve role. (Continues through Thurs., Aug. 23.)

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