Belle de Jour

Surrealism 101. Catherine is a Goddess!

April 6th, 2011 by Wayward Muse
Rating: Featured Actors: Actors: Geneviève Page, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli Featured Directors: Languages:
Belle de Jour

Beautiful film that is definitely dated in the eroticism department. But in terms of the overall story and meaning, this is not important, because really, it is a film about social-sexual repression and hypocrisy. Catherine Deneuve is a beautiful young bourgeois newlywed who wants to be bad..really bad! Now in a sane, rational, hypocrisy-free world; no problem! She just says: Honey, I’m just not turned on by this two bed, missionary-style gentle version of sex you keep offering me; I WANNA GET FREAKY! And he doesn’t say: OMG, I married a harlot, not the pure uptight virginal Madonna I paid for. Get thee to a nunnery, wench!! No, in a sane, rational world he says: Whoopee! I hit the jackpot! Let’s go buy some STUFF!

But as we join our heroine back in the hypocritical world of the bourgeoisie that Buñuel is satirizing, the only way for Belle to be bad is to sneak around behind her husband’s back and be a high-class prostitute, while simultaneously presenting the perfect demeanor of a scared, sexually-repressed virgin who can’t even sleep with her husband. And isn’t he such a saint to put up with it! Well, not really a saint we see; he gets a huge social payoff; his libertine colleague, and the rest of his associates deeply admire him for his possession of this ultimate trophy-wife. Until the brothel-frequenting libertine friend inevitably shows up at Belle’s brothel and the gig is up! What could, at this point, have been a sizzling hot kinky scene of vulnerability and ravishment, becomes instead the scene that sums up the whole movie; he rejects her. She is nothing but a common tart after all. The old double standard, requiring dangerous and unnecessary risk-taking to feed emotional needs, is what fuels the tragedy of this movie. Do not be afraid of the surrealism; it consists of dream sequences and flashbacks that require a bit of attention, but nothing compared with, say, a Lynch film or Memento…this is surrealism 101.

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