Belle de jour
Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page,
In Belle de jour, Catherine Deneuve’s beauty is a thing in itself. Like writer Jean-Claude Carrière, Deneuve was a collaborator in Luis Buñuel’s vision, and she gives a knowing performance as Séverine, a bored-cold bourgeoise who discovers how good evil can be on afternoons spent in a high-class brothel, where fantasy itself is a fetish object. The film is as endlessly mysterious and fascinating as the Chinese lacquer box into which Séverine peers—and what does she see? Don’t quit your day job, Séverine. It takes violence, the more fantasized the better, to make any sort of crack in the lacquer. Belle de jour is L’age d’or updated and in color. As Raymond Durgnat wrote, “Glittery, cool and urbane, Buñuel’s film looks just like Lubitsch à la mode—almost a design for living in the Playgirl era. But underneath it’s a bleak and sharp surrealist object.”
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