Belle de Jour - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Belle de Jour Reviews

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½ April 4, 2017
A film about prostitution that makes you believe that women want to be prostitutes, that they are "sexy during the day" that they comes from a bourgeois background and that they are happy to do this. Not a word about the 99.99% of prostitutes for whom life is a living hell, not a word about these immigrants who come from the "third" world to be sold, against their will to rich Americans. They want to make western men believe that all prostitutes are white and look like Catherine Deneuve ! After "Paris at all prices" that made you believe that illegal immigrants live in luxury, this french film gives men a good conscience to go see whores. This is sick.
½ February 4, 2017
A bored housewife begins working at a local brothel and soon falls prey to an obsessive client who tries to manipulate her emotionally and reveal everything about her double life to her husband.
October 5, 2016
A simple premise that has lots of insight by Bunuel. It's mainly an interesting dissection on gender. Bunuel also keeps his dreamlike imagery throughout here to really put you in the daze of the protagonist's psyche. Catherine Deneuve is fantastic.
½ October 2, 2016
Ugh, I don't know. A bland morality play with a beautiful woman. I love Catherine Deneuve but found this to be mostly a snoozefest, perhaps, I'm very willing to admit, because this sort of thing has been done so many times since. I was actually sort of enjoying the beginning of this, a woman exploring her sexuality and trying to become more comfortable with her past and herself. But unfortunately Bunuel had to ruin it by punishing his lead in several ways and leaving her with a 'curse' by the end. Maybe you had to have been there at the time. Or maybe you just need to be male.
½ June 29, 2016
Luis Buńuel, the greatest voice in surrealist cinema, has a unique style and technique as a filmmaker: the always-revelatory interrogation of dreams, the magisterial triumph of mad love, and as in all of his films, the 'systematic derangement of the senses' professed by Rimbaud. In the world of Buńuel, dreams rule one's thoughts; they send one plumbing the depths of consciousness, in pursuit of the unknown. In Belle de Jour, Séverine lives in an almost fictional reality, attending the brothel as work during the afternoons, and living a bourgeois conventional life at night. She is soon torn between both realities, as waking life and dreamless sleep begin to merge and confuse one another, to the point of madness. Marcel is one of Buńuel's most unforgettable characters, colorful and poetic in appearance. His gangster suave, flamboyant dress, and ruthless personality are packaged so perfectly well by actor Pierre Clémenti, that it truly makes him one of the most interesting characters in cinematic history. Before there were gold grillz and rappers with platinum caps, there was Marcel. My golden cap is proudly inspired by this film and the character of Marcel as well. 'Belle de Jour' is one of Buńuel's greatest and most accomplished works: true Art in the highest sense of imagination. Ranked within at least my top ten favorite films of all-time.
May 19, 2016
Belle de Jour is an intelligent, hugely entertaining picture not about sex, but about fantasies - and how deep they can go, and how far they can take us.
½ May 15, 2016
I don't understand why this film is considered to be great at all, and generally I'm not seeing any reasons given for its supposed greatness other than simply stating that it's great. Is the story good? No, it's pointless and sensational. Is the cinematography good? No, it's dull and forgettable. Is the message memorable/good? No, it's so one-noted and ambiguous that you can't even tell what Bunuel is saying (probably best not to know). This film fails on all the basic elements of what a film should do for me. If you're stretching yourself, you can try to say that the film is a commentary on the mixing of elegant society with base desires. On the less ad hoc level, it is a film that is made to fulfill a fantasy. Much like Séverine's fantasies, it is a dreadfully painful and particularly undesirable fantasy to have.
February 12, 2016
Catherine Deneuve was such a belle once.
I couldn't quite stand the film however.
February 7, 2016
Since you only come in the afternoons.
½ January 28, 2016
Though not as dreamlike as one might expect coming from someone like Buńuel, Belle de Jour is a deeply intelligent, deliberately bizarre look at sexual repression and class structures. Buńuel attributes Séverine's subconscious desires to her upbringing and the rigid social mores cultivated by religious institutions. Though she lives a relatively perfect, upperclass life, she wants something else sexually, something indicative of the ways in which society teaches men and women how to behave and how to perceive each other. Her life at the brothel is an independent entity that satisfies that need, her clients revealing quite a bit about what Buńuel is trying to say about what men and woman have been taught to want. Men want children or sex dolls or subservient slaves that they can abuse and control; Séverine wants to be abused. Buńuel doesn't single out these desires as natural so much as he makes clear that they are learned, decidedly unnatural. The decision to merge reality and her dreamworld is an intelligent one as well, and makes for one of the best portrayals of the almost precognitive nature of dreams I've ever seen.
½ November 5, 2015
"It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best." - Roger Ebert
½ October 21, 2015
Certainly one of Luis Bunuel's most accessible works, made all the more fantastic by Catherine Deneuve's sultry performance.
September 5, 2015
It's sleazy in the classiest way possible. Buńuel explores a woman's repressed fantasies with his signature, dream-like style.
August 20, 2015
This movie was quite different than what I expected, but nonetheless very interesting mainly because of Deneuve's character. She was a very intriguing person that clearly doesn't have a clear pointing view and with all those dreams, it's hard to know what's real and what's not. But still, her performances was very good.
~August 20, 2015~
June 30, 2015
Luis Bunuel's Bell de Jour, power seems to grow stronger the more I've seen it.
This is a prime example of Surrealist Film put into complete action. Filmed in 1966, the film is dated. But it is clear that Belle de Jour was way ahead of the cultural curve. At the time of it's release it was considered controversial, perverse, bordering on pornography and shocking. It no longer holds that level of shock for audiences, but it bravely attempts to explores the mind of a female masochist close to 50 years ago when there was no clear understanding available. Catherine Deneuve, in all her Yves St. Laurent and blond glory, is an upperclass young married woman who has begun to find her marriage boring. Her husband, similar to a sexless Ken doll, obviously holds no erotic connection for her. Distant and cold. Alice is rather "removed" from her own life. Her day is pointless. And, with very clever editing Buńuel manages to reveal a great deal about her childhood that connects to her adult self. It is clear that she desires a force of eroticism from her husband that is beyond his understanding. When Alice hears about the existence of underground Parisian brothels where lower class housewives earn extra money. She ventures to explore this world. And, it is in this brothel that she discovers and has her sexual desires fulfilled. Alice's reality has already been mixing with fantasy long before she explores the world of prostitution, but the viewer's ability to detect "reality" from "surreality" has become challenging. As Alice begins to learn how to assert her power and sexuality as a woman, we are grappling with the differences between her reality and fantasies as much as she. Buńuel's conclusion offers two endings employing visual and audio editing but don't expect resolution or any clearly defined answer. In the end, it does not matter. The merging of the "real" with the "fantasy" is the "surreal" is, in many ways, an exceptional way to form this void. An individual who only seems to come to life when punished. The character is not intended to be fully formed. Alice is a stunted beauty at the mercy of not only her situation and those around her -- but to her eternal confusion between reality and fantasy. A cinematic masterpiece that continues to stand the test of time and presents an oddly valid connection to the root of masochism. This is essential viewing for anyone who loves film.
June 6, 2015
I had only seen this once before and it was nice to revisit this masterpiece from Luis Buńuel. The blu-ray look great and perfectly captures just how stunning Catherine Deneuve is. She plays a homemaker who is both repressed and bored so decides to become a prostitute, for the afternoons only so as not to interfere with her marriage. This is a fascinating film and again, another must see for all film lovers. Check it out!
May 28, 2015
What made Luis Bunuel such a timeless film-maker, was his acute sense about the nature of the human condition, the animalistic base of man, and the veneer of social etiquette...Belle de Jour, while not in any way his magnum opus, is a prime example of the director's extraordinary talents...
½ May 12, 2015
Quite surreal, it's difficult to keep track of what's happening as real life, fantasy and flash backs are blended together. None of the synopses I've read really capture the feel of this movie. I suppose this movie is more complicated than a couple of lines can lead you to believe. One of those movies that leave you thinking long after it's over.
March 20, 2015
There is something about glamour that is so ... unglamorous. Once you get past the pristine mist of designer products, enviably beautiful people, and inexplicable shine (Is it the money? The power? The final hour?), what's left? Someone who carefully dresses their life with opulent panache can never truly be happy; a few too many Benjamins cannot purchase a coherent existence. Look at all those 1950s housewives: while they might have a husband all the other ladies on the block swoon over, while they might have perfect kids, and while they might have the most picturesque house in the county, behind their cherry red lipstick and gleaming manicured nails is a hollow interior. Choose style over substance and you'll be left with a designated look, not a feeling.
Séverine (a luminous Catherine Deneuve in her breakthrough performance) is suffering from such problems. She has recently married Pierre (Jean Sorel), a nice enough, handsome enough, rich enough surgeon that leaves her well-off but somewhat fatigued. Her afternoons may as well have tumbleweeds rolling through their mundane rituals, but even when Pierre comes home from work, there is hardly a spark being set off: it seems that once you settle down, you settle down, and if you haven't married a spitfire, you can't expect to be continuously knocked off your feet.
Séverine spends most of her days in the grips of sexual fantasy, mostly sadomasochistic and mostly reprehensible. We only vaguely know her background, but Séverine's desires to be punished, objectified, and hated act as the gasoline to her sensuous fire. In a brief flashback, we see her as a young girl disobeying her priest during communion; is it because she is stubborn, barbed, or corrupt? One can hardly say; in "Belle De Jour", she is a maiden of glaze that projects more emotion with her slender hands that her face.
In a casual conversation with friends, the very scandalous idea of prostitution is brought up. It's the world's oldest profession, but is it as prevalent as it used to be? An outsider makes it clear that, yes, something so taboo is still alive and strong. The tone of the exchange is hardly serious, but Séverine's dead expression says otherwise. She doesn't want to say it aloud, but the idea of becoming a call girl brings an adrenaline kick like no other. She isn't doing anything important in the afternoon; why not entertain herself (and other men) until her husband brings home the daily bacon?
When "Belle De Jour" turned into an international success in 1967, Luis Buńuel was nearing 70, an age where most directors should be retiring; but at 67, Buńuel is at his most salient and his most stingingly observant. One might initially expect blatant erotica with a film so sexual at its core, but "Belle De Jour" is even sexier than all those immodest "Emmanuelle" moneymakers; it holds the power of suggestion like a little girl clinging to an antique China teapot after her grandmother tells her not to drop it. The film doesn't need, nor give into the urge, to set the screen on fire with slow-motion, sweaty, softly lit love scenes. As audience members, we expect too much; a screen can blur reality until it turns into a massive smudge. We've come to believe that if we're watching an action movie, we're going to see some witless but thrilling bloodshed; if we're watching a film deemed to be erotic, there better be some soft-core movement.
But what if the usual frankness was taken away from us, and we had to use our insight to fill in the extensive blanks? No matter how disappointed our inner 13-year old selves become, not showing something that we want to see is much more affecting than pouring sexuality onto the screen like an unstoppable liquid. Yet when a film as pointed as "Belle De Jour" contains so much mystery and so much surrealism, it's difficult to be completely focused on whether Deneuve will show as much skin as we want her to (spoiler: she doesn't). Everything seems to have a double-meaning, an introspective question; our lingering arousals are put on hold in favor of trying to make sense of it all.
There are a few times where Séverine exclaims that she could hardly live if she weren't also moonlighting as a prostitute, but there's something about how she says it that suggests otherwise. Is she doing it because she's dissatisfied, because she's disturbed, or is it something else? Personally, I think the authority involved is what turns her on. Her entire life, Séverine has mostly likely been looked at as an untouchable beauty that may as well be an object; people are afraid to approach her, scared that they might somehow morph her astonishing good looks. But as a lady of the day, men are no longer wary of her. She is giving her body to their depressing needs, and where most would feel materialized, she feels empowered. She doesn't have to be known as a surgeon's wife any longer; she is in control of the success of a romp, and being the focus of a man's humiliating passion puts her on a pedestal after acting as an ethereally attractive shadow for so long.
By the end of the film, though, it's hard to tell what has been real and what has been fake. Throughout much of its course, the fantasies and the flashbacks are completely separate, and we think we know what is and what isn't reality. But the conclusion (which would be unfair to tarnish), is so unpredictably bizarre that it offsets everything. It suddenly becomes a film, open to nearly anybody's interpretation. That's what has made Buńuel's movies last so long; with their abstract themes, it's hard to truly understand what he's trying to say, but he gives us enough content to keep us intrigued long after we've seen them. "Belle De Jour", as simple as it may seem at first, is knotted in its meaning, and the untangling process may take longer than a few days.
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