Belle De Jour is a stunning psychological drama about a bored housewife’s bizarre sexual fantasies from director Luis Buñuel, featuring a career-best performance from Catherine Deneuve.
As effective and erotic as it was when it was first released over 50 years ago, Belle De Jour tells the story of Severine (the stunning Catherine Deneuve), a young wife who remains virginal with her husband while secretly enjoying a rich fantasy life in which she imagines being forced to have sex. Her fantasies lead her to a brothel, where she hears that housewives are employed to work as prostitutes by Madame Anais (Page), and soon Severine is selling her body during the afternoon (thus being a ‘belle de jour’) and returning to her blissfully unaware husband in the evening.
By no means as racy as it sounds, this is one film that proves you don’t have to have actors flashing the flesh at every opportunity, or indulging in graphic snogging for a movie to be erotic. Instead, this is subtle, gripping and a masterpiece of cinema, thanks to a wonderful central performance from Deneuve, stunning photography from Sacha Vierny (whose CV also includes Peter Greenaway’s movies, including The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover) and, above all, superb direction from the late, truly great Buñuel.
It is Buñuel’s son who throws excrement over Catherine Deneuve in one scene – except the material used was actually cheese.
I can’t help myself, I am lost. – Severine (Catherine Deneuve)
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page, Pierre Clémenti, Francisco Rabal
Director: Luis Buñuel
Writer: Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière