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Belle de jour (The Criterion Collection)
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Second, this DVD is non-anamorphic for very good reason: Belle de Jour was photographed in 1.66:1 widescreen. 16:9 enhancement would actually have CUT OFF some of the picture at the top and bottom. People who complain about the quality of this DVD simply don't know what they're talking about.
As for the movie itself, Belle de Jour is one of the few films about eroticism that really gets it right - it knows that eroticism is in the mind, not the body. The always luminous Catherine Deneuve plays Severine - a woman whose life is at once picture-perfect and fundamentally empty. She is married to a good provider, the handsome but boring Pierre (Jean Sorel), and enjoys all the idle upper-middle class accouterments.
But something is wrong in this greeting-card perfect world. Severine seems to find erotic satisfaction only in the repressed desire to be humilated and used sexually. She escapes into waking dreams where she enjoys being whipped, soiled with mud, and bound to trees. This lurid fantasy life leads her to seek employment as a part-time prostitute - but only during the day, before her husband gets home.
Complications arise when her double life is discovered by her husband's friend Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli), and when she finds herself the subject of a stalker - a dangerously obsessed customer named Marcel (Pierre Clementi), who also happens to be a violence-prone thief.Read more ›
The fantasy sequences are usually signalled by the sound of carriage bells, but by the end of the film the viewer is no longer able to differentiate between what is another one of Severine's fantasies and what is reality. Even Bunuel admitted to not knowing himself. He said that "by the end, the real and imaginary fuse; for me they form the same thing."
The gorgeous Catherine Deneuve, resplendent in her icy prime, portrays Severine Sevigny, the middle-class wife of Pierre, a doctor. She is frigid, virginal, yet seemingly happy enough in her bourgeoisie life and its trappings. However, upon hearing about a local clandestine brothel from a friend, she pays a visit to the madame, and becomes a prostitute, going by the name of "Belle de Jour", as she can only work in the afternoons. She apparently fully realizes and enjoys her sexuality, despite her guilty conscience, exclaiming that she "can't help it". She certainly doesn't need the money. She's bored with her life and her marriage, needing a "firm hand" to lead her; a need which the madame, Anais, who is obviously attracted to her, almost immediately recognizes. Her sweet and conventional husband is unaware, treating her much like a child, and the audience cannot help but believe that even if he knew of her true nature, he would not understand or empathize.Read more ›
What's amazing is Bunuel's "respectable" treatment of this material. His cool and discrete approach brillantly contrasts with the frustrated sexual lives and fantasies we see on the screen. Brief nudity, no explicit sexual scenes, everything is done through inference and association. And what associations! Bunuel's playful surrealism is in full force here - witness the mysterious box - and his cast brings this eroticized world to life (along with Deneuve, the best performance comes from Genevieve Page as the most refined house madam you'll ever see). "Belle de Jour" is masterful piece of latter-day surrealism: it's a wonderful demonstration of the emotional anarchy at the root of sexual longing and the particularly tortured outlets people use to satisfy their needs. And yet the whole enterprise is discreetly charming - it's light at heart. This has to be the most elegantly dirty movie ever made.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very interesting film. Not really a great movie, but similar to passing a car crash....you just can't take your eyes off it. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
An interesting look at women and how they are seen in early 1960s France, but a pretty dumb plot ending in unmerited tragedy.Published 2 months ago by Lena
I suspect this film may be many viewers first encounter with Bunuel. It was mine years ago and I struggled while watching it, my literal mind trying to make ‘sense’ out of scenes,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by K. Gordon
A classic by any standards with an absolutely gorgeous Catherine Deneuve at her best. Great surrealistic double ending is another stroke of genius by Bunuel and his brilliant... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Maurizio
A friend recommended Belle de Jour and we were expecting a good movie so despite how awful it seemed we kept watching for a long time before giving up in disgust. Read morePublished 4 months ago by S. Mitchell