Diary of a Chambermaid (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
Surprisingly (considering the title) Le journal d'une femme de chambre is not about sex, nor is it a journal for that matter. It is about politics, sexual politics of course, but also domestic politics, manor politics, and nation-state politics. The time is the thirties as fascism moves toward its mesmerizing stranglehold on a decadent Europe. The place is France (Normandy, I imagine) where the republicans hold power. In the streets are those who would be brown suits and among them is Joseph (Georges Geret), groundskeeper for a petite bourgeois family of degenerate eccentrics. He is an incipient Nazi, a xenophobic anti-Semitic man who worships brute force, an ignorant man that every French movie-goer knows will be a Nazi-collaborator once France is under the occupation.
The story is seen from the point of view of Celestine, a chambermaid of some sophistication (and an abiding, but understandable duplicity), a Parisian who has come to work for the family in the country. She is played by the incomparable Jeanne Moreau of the plastic face, a woman of many guises, many moods and an ability to depict with a glance any emotion. She is a great star of the French stage and screen who plays the part effortlessly, with finesse and a fine subtlety. The screenplay by Buñel and the brilliant Jean-Claude Carriere (who penned so many outstanding films, Bell de Jour (1967), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Valmont (1989), The Ogre (1996), etc.) is an adaptation of the novel by Octave Mirbeau.Read more ›
Adapted from a novel of Octave Mirbeau, DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID was directed in 1964 by a Luis Bunuel already sanctified by two generations of movie lovers. French actor Michel Piccoli replaces the bunuelian Fernando Rey in the role of a member of the bourgeoisie slightly decadent and ridiculous. Jeanne Moreau (Jules and Jim), as the chambermaid, is a young woman coming from Paris and discovering what is like to live in the "deep" France of the early thirties.
DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID can not be classified in any specific genre. It's a comedy yes, but with a very serious murder in the middle of the story. It's a detective story yes, but with harsch political critiques. In fact, it's simply a Luis Bunuel movie with his unique personal world impregnating a novel he admired from his childhood on. Highly recommended.
A DVD zone your library.
The film is funny and scathing at the same time, relentlessly pursuing its own agenda to the delight and probable perplexion of the viewer. This is one of the most accessible of Bunuel's late films, which isn't to say it's better or worse than the rest - it's just a bit different in its use of more traditional modes of storytelling. He asks the viewer questions and when you think he's giving the answer you'll find the rug swiftly pulled from under your feet with the delight of a born prankster. He is, of course, much more than that but one of the many pleasures his work offers is the entertaining (and complete) control he has over the content, the unseen hand you feel expertly guiding the film to its effective conclusion.
Entertaining, thoughtful and with another wonderful performance by Jeanne Moreau, this is an easy introduction to Bunuel's oeuvre. "Mystery is the essential element in every work of art." -Luis Bunuel
Bunuel puts a jaundiced eye on everyone. The captain may may be convinced of the honor of the army, but he lies about his neighbor. The priest and confessor of the lady of the manor is called upon to give her marital advice, which he does by saying that twice a week is too much and she mustn't enjoy it. The father-in-law is over-civilized but with a penchant for soiled ladies' boots. Joseph raves on about order, faith and country, but believes a goose tastes better if it has been tortured before being killed.
And there is Celestine herself. She knows her power over these men but plays with them in a rather abstracted manner.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting drama. Typical French ending that is completely unsatisfying. The journey is interesting even if the destination is not.Published 2 months ago by glyph
Another great Luis Bunuel movie that leaves completely puzzled at the end but forces to think hard on the message that the director wanted to communicate. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Francisco J. Torres
A Masterpiece...Great story...very good pacing, interesting characters...Published 9 months ago by Luis Logrono
I can't rate this movie because I can't access it through instant prime video even though I have rented it.Published on October 8, 2013 by Elisabeth Muelsch
I cannot review this film because I could never see more than a few minutes of it at a
time without having waiting up to five minutes for the instant video to reload. Read more
Wonderful Bunuel and wonderful Normandie and great Jeanne Moreau. Perfect movie. I lost count how many times I have seen this movie. Read morePublished on April 18, 2013 by Carlos A. Padilla
This gem of a film presents a subtle criticism of the lifestyle and values of the wealthy and not so wealthy in France just before World War II. Read morePublished on November 17, 2007 by Utah Blaine
It is unfortunate that politically Bunuel could only see the evils of Fascism, ignoring the Siamese twin of Socialism. Read morePublished on January 17, 2007 by R. A Rubin
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