In the midst of my compulsive Oscar-viewing and tying in with the release of whatever the new Fifty Shades movie is called, I present to you my review of an actually good film that analyzes erotica as well as the difference between love and pleasure, Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour.
I regard Buñuel as a the godfather of surrealist cinema, a true revolutionary alongside Salvador Dalí. With Belle de Jour he continues with the tradition of blurring the line between what is real and what fantasy. In this case, contrasting Séverine’s sexual fantasies against the reality of her sex life. To do this analysis between desire and reality, Buñuel chooses the most perfect character to do so with, the bored house wife. Her life at this point consists of wallowing around her house waiting for her husband to come so he can continue working and she can go to sleep in her own individual bed. There a natural appetitive sexual desire that will result from this situation and as the film transpires that fantasy gradually invades Séverine’s reality.
After hearing about these underground brothels where housewives go to make some extra-cash while their husbands are at work, something sparks in Séverine. Her natural desire forces to go inspect the place and she lands a job as Belle de Jour. From their on, Buñuel utilizes the several sexual encounters Belle has with different individuals as a way of debating the separation between sex for love and sex for pleasure, meanwhile exploring the individuality between a person’s turn-ons as he presents us with several of Belle’s little turn-ons but never giving us a why behind them. It’s just the way she is, that’s what pleasures her by nature, it’s her sexual essence and there’s no point in rationalizing the reason behind her every turn-on because you won’t find one.
As Buñuel commonly does, at the end of the day he’s managed to interweave what is fantasy with what is real, blurring the line entirely and leaving it up for you to decipher his cryptic message by an examination of his imagination. There’s no point to rationalization as what Buñuel does is purely expressionistic, surely he thinks about everything that goes into making a film but what he presents you in the film is his pure expressionism as extracted from his imagination. For that reason, Belle de Jour is not only a great film in terms of the representation of our sexual nature, but also another surreal triumph molded by the one and only Luis Buñuel.