Belle de Jour

In Belle de Jour, Catherine Deneuve's beauty is a thing in itself. 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. Michel Piccoli is a manipulative friend of Séverine's patient husband; neither man can approach the belle objet they themselves created. 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. Wry and precise, Belle de Jour is L'age d'or updated and in color. As Raymond Durgnat wrote, “Buñuel's film looks just like Lubitsch à la mode. . . . But underneath it's a bleak and sharp surrealist object that one can't touch, or even think about afterwards, without bleeding.”

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