Belle De Jour (1967)
Starring: Catherine Denueve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli
Directed by Luis Brunel
Synopsis (by MOster)
Due to some vaguely-defined childhood traumas, a sexually-confused upper-class housewife has fantasies which make her uncomfortable around her husband but which require some other outlet of exploration. Gleaning some information from a sketchy friend, she ends up taking up afternoon job in a whorehouse (hence, Belle de Jour, "woman of the day"). Her beauty and class make her very desirable very quickly; and one particular client's obsession yields dire consequences.
i didn't get it. maybe i am just foreign filmed out, but i didn't care about anyone or any thing in this one. there was some vague resemblance to ethan frome, where a life of penance is served for "sins" committed, but eh. who cares. chick won't sleep with her husband, but becomes a whore. too deep and philosophically french. dream sequences made it all the more confusing too. i couldn't tell what were dreams, until some sort of sadomasochistic thing happened. maybe she could only express her true desires as a whore because she thought they were too dirty for her dr. husband? they didn't even sleep in the same bed. then she punishes herself because she was too dirty, and her dirtyness got her husband maimed, so she must repent, repent, REPENT. i don't know. who cares.
This film's linear nature and lack of subplots don't leave too much to discuss. But as usual with the foreign ones, I think I found this movie to be a little more interesting than Leila did. There were certainly some interesting shots, and while the themes (and the sex acts themselves) probably carried more weight 40 years ago I found myself able to empathize with most of the characters through most of the movie. That said, the consequences of Belle's actions are overplayed, yielding irony that I found to be too heavy.
The flashbacks did provide some motivation for her actions and her feelings, but I think they also came from a place where less was known about the psychology of sexually-abused children. It was unclear to me how much of the VERY end of the movie was in her head but by that point I was hoping that something would buck my preconcieved notions. Despite its apparent fame, I don't know that I'd actually recommend this one outside of the arena of study.