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Belle de Jour (1968)

tomatometer

90

Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

85

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 3,617

My Rating

Movie Info

Belle de Jour dramatizes the collision between depravity and elegance, one of the favorite themes of director Luis Buñuel. Catherine Deneuve stars as a wealthy but bored newlywed, eager to taste life to the fullest. She seemingly gets her wish early in the film when she is kidnapped, tied to a tree, and whipped. It turns out that this is only a daydream, but her subsequent visits to a neighboring brothel, where she offers her services, certainly seem to be real. This illusion/reality dichotomy

R,

Drama

Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carriere

Jan 22, 2002

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Latest News on Belle de Jour

July 11, 2006:
Natalie Portman Will Do Naked in Next Film
This one's for all you Portman pervs out there -- the erstwhile Queen Amidala is set to go fully...

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (2) | DVD (10)

A delicacy, a passionate and compassionate study of erotica.

August 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best.

July 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Of all the supposedly challenging attractions playing locally in our supposedly more enlightened era, the most compellingly erotic and entertaining spectacle is still provided by Belle de Jour

April 19, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
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This silly little masterpiece regards Deneuve as the goddess of light she really was -- a figment of our collective appetite for the unreal.

April 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Every detail has been so carefully thought out that seeing it again is like seeing it in another key.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A wise, enormously enjoyable film about the power of fantasy -- a toast to the importance of dreams.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Deneuve is radiant in the lead role ... packed with Buñuel's trademark surrealistic imagery and a few really memorable fantasy sequences.

September 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Under the Radar
Under the Radar

Few faces in the movies have contemporized storytelling standards as swiftly as Catherine Deneuve's.

September 2, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinemaphile.org
Cinemaphile.org

Luis Bunuel's cheerfully brazen satire of sexual repression, social decorum, and erotic fantasies is in the running for Bunuel's kinkiest film, and that's saying a lot.

March 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Turner Classic Movies Online
Turner Classic Movies Online

Something that keeps us on our toes in Belle de Jour comes from Luis Buñuel's refusal to spell out what is real and what is not. Must this be so clear to us when the fantasy life of Séverine means so much to her?

February 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

A character study with surreal interludes and a rare film in which Buñuel depicts a member of the upper class with some sympathy and depth

January 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

...is a fascinating cinematic achievement that dares to connect Deneuve's porcelain beauty to a world of bourgeois rebellion.

April 12, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

One of the most acclaimed and accessible masterworks of surrealist cinema, an erotic meditaton about reality and fantasy that remains alluring and shocking decades after it was made, at least partly due to Catherine Deneuve's cool, mesmerizing performance

August 13, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A surprisingly discreet film considering the erotic nature of the subject matter.

October 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Icy sketch of prostitute's life by one of film's greatest directors

December 17, 2004
Film Journal International

Oddly fascinating.

October 16, 2003 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

A radical work that both looks back at the director's own early surrealist cinema and anticipates the work of David Lynch.

September 9, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Absolutely superb.

July 31, 2003

The use of dreams fused with reality works because the two things balance one another to create a whole, instead of detracting as a cop-out as most movies with this motif rely on.

July 10, 2003
eFilmCritic.com

One of master director Luis Buñuel's most wry and elegant films.

March 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

But beyond the artistry, this film stands as the most accessible of Buñuel's work.

September 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Audience Reviews for Belle de Jour

Luis Bunuel's "Belle De Jour" is an enigmatic film..much like the mystical beauty at the heart of it.

Ravishingly beautiful, but a woman of a few words and seemingly aloof, Severine (Catherine Deneuve) is what you would call the typical "bored housewife", but not for any fault of her husband's mind you. Pierre (John Sorel) is a handsome, loving husband and together they lead a luxurious life, yet Severine is somehow averse to the idea of sleeping with her husband. Hence, although they share the same bedroom, they don't share the same bed, much to Pierre's dismay, but he chooses to hang in there hoping Severine would come around and overcome her discomfort.
Their family friend Henri (Michel Piccoli) openly flirts with Severine and she keeps rejecting his advances and asks him to keep his compliments to himself!

So aloof is Severine, that sometimes her mind wanders off (and the audience has to watch carefully to find out "when"), and she has vividly erotic fantasies of masochistic nature. Given her quiet nature, some of these fantasies manage to shock....for instance, when she imagines herself being tied and stripped and whipped and molested by two carriage drivers in the middle of the woods!

A chance information about an acquaintance entices her to explore something new...she decides to spend her afternoons in a high class brothel working as a prostitute!


"Belle De Jour" is a complex film. This doesn't refer to its plot..that part is fairly simple. What is complex, then, is Severine's troubled psychology. Only through various images and Severine's mood and expressions, Bunuel tries to convey to us what exactly brews in her head. It is with great dexterity that Bunuel directs the scenes in the brothel. Just like her, we are in for a surprise, every time a new client comes in. Her interactions with the several clients with bizarre fetishes of varying proportions are showcased in some of the film's best scenes.

Bunuel cleverly intersperses the narrative with fleeting shots depicting her (possibly traumatic) past...which give subtle clues about her behavioral traits. Some aspects of her psyche are revealed in some surreal sequences (some of the best I've seen in film).


For the most part, Bunuel directs like a true master and builds the film beautifully as it takes the form of a potent psycho-sexual drama which works to mesmerizing effect. But he does not rely on gratuitous sex and nudity to accomplish his goal. In fact there is not a single scene with explicit nudity in "Belle De Jour". Bunuel instead relies on shocking images including the situations in the brothel, Severine's outlandish fantasies, the overall tension between some characters (including a lesbian subtext) and of course, the fine performances. Suffice to say, "Belle De Jour" is one of the boldest films I've seen, especially for its time.

However, the episode involving a particularly violent client of Severine, Marcel (Pierre Clémenti) in the final act seems a bit forced and has the trappings of a pedestrian thriller, which could've been done away with or handled differently. The film would be just as effective, or even more, without this particular plot development. Nonetheless, it doesn't render this otherwise flawless film any less watchable.

At the center of this spellbinding experience, is the woman herself, Catherine Deneuve, the breathtaking beauty, who enchants us with her arresting performance as Severine. In spite of not being in agreement with her about some of the decisions she makes, one can't help but root for her. On some level, her character in "Belle De Jour" reminded me of her character in Roman Polanski's classic psychological thriller "Repulsion"..although both films as such are entirely different.


It wouldn't be wrong to say that although there are plenty of films depicting a married woman and her repressed sexuality out there, only a handful few, like Luis Bunuel's "Belle De Jour" actually stand out, the reasons for which you'll find out when you are done watching it!
August 27, 2013
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

there is a point at which the film stands still a bit too long, but taken as a whole its commentary on the human psyche is very interesting and effective. of course, deneuve is very good, as are each of the supporters, and the mapping of the film was well done. a very good film.
July 30, 2013
sanjurosamurai
danny d

Super Reviewer

Catherine Deneuve stars as a young housewife with masochistic fantasies who feels compelled to work as a prostitute during days while her husband is at work. An ambiguous, dreamlike ending caps this subtle, psychologically complex drama.
February 6, 2012
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Her name is "Belle De Jour," a "daylight beauty." An exploratory on fantasies and on the bourgeoisie, Belle De Jour is a surreal, artful erotica from Luis Buñuel affirmed by a mesmerizing performance from Catherine Deneuve, garbed in Yves Saint Laurent. Bizarre.
September 10, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Belle de jour - Schöne des Tages (DE)
  • Belle de Jour (Beautiful of the Day) (UK)
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