Monday, February 18, 2013

Belle de Jour

Year: 1967
Director: Luis Bunuel
Writer: Luis Bunuel, Joseph Kessel
Genre: Drama

My life has found itself full of work lately. I'm not complaining, but in the periods of exhaustion in between, there is little room for films. Watching surrealistic or feminist fare is too stimulating for a tired mind, although "typical" slashers also have been lacking in appear. Upon realizing I've seen barely anything this year, I blindly chose to watch Belle de Jour. The title had been on my list for a while, but had no clue of what to expect. As it turned out, this was the perfect decision on my part. I am completely enamored with the film.

As the story starts we are immediately drawn into a weird dual-reality. The lead character is a young woman married to her husband. Their chaste relationship draws on both of them in different ways, but we see only how she handles herself. All throughout the film, it is hard to determine what is real or imagined as she takes up a job in a brothel. Is she really even there or is this another elaborate fantasy? Are the fantasies real?

None of these questions are ever answered and that is part of the beauty of things. There are symbols, such as bells, which imply that those are her periods of dream, but who can be certain? I felt I could peg what was meant to be fantasy until later on when things became even harder to parse. The film is certainly not stodgy or overly complex though, just something very intriguing.

It's a rare film that makes me continue to look up information and interpretations of it after watching. Belle de Jour has done that for me and I would love to continue to read critical essays about it, or even eventually submit my own. This is an incredible film.

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