Belle de Jour
1967 | Drama | 101 minutes | French with English subtitles
Despite their love for each other, young and beautiful Séverine Serizy and her husband Pierre have a problem. Their sexual life is restricted. Although frustrated by his wife’s frigidity, he respects her wishes to lead her own life which is filled with sexual fantasies. A friend of theirs, Henri Husson, expresses a desire for Séverine, but she rejects him. At a later encounter, Husson mentions a high-class brothel to Séverine, probably thinking that might be a way of seducing her. Haunted by memories of being molested during childhood, Séverine visits the brothel run by Madame Anais. Madame Anais takes her on and names her Belle de Jour. Séverine works from 2 PM to 5:00 PM servicing clients returning each evening to her unsuspecting husband. Séverine becomes involved with Marcel, a jealous gangster, who urges her to leave her husband. Séverine refuses. Marcel waits for Pierre to return from work and shoots him three times. Pierre miraculously recovers but is in a coma. Husson visits Pierre and tells him about Séverine’s secret life. Pierre starts to weep. A bereft Séverine tells Pierre she is thinking of him. Despite her sordid past, she loves Pierre.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 96%
- Metacritic Score: 93
- Venice Film Festival: Winner, Golden Lion Award, Best Picture
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Winner, Circle Award, Best Picture
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film
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It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best. That’s because it understands eroticism from the inside-out—understands how it exists not in sweat and skin, but in imagination.
Luis Bunuel’s elegantly surreal film about a bored housewife and part-time sex worker offers a shrewd, scabrous commentary on social and gender relations. Above all, the film is a shrewd commentary on the hypocrisy of social relations and sexual politics. A strange and captivating film.
Pervading the film, usefully enough, are not the enticements of sensuality but the sadnesses of a society in which love and sensuality are seen too seldom as a unity and too frequently as a mutually destructive tangle.
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