Ebert’s Greats – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

List Item: Watch Roger Ebert’s “The Great Movies”
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discrete charm of theTitle: Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie)
Director: Luis Buñuel
Year: 1972
Country: France

I am not a stranger to the world of surrealist cinema. I have already seen, and enjoyed, the likes of Le Chien Andalou, Glory to the Filmmaker! and Mulholland Drive. With this being the third film I have seen by Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel (the others being Le Chien Andalou and Land Without Bread) I also had an idea of what to expect meaning I would not be caught too much off-guard. Needless to say, this film is weird.

If I had to describe the plot in one sentence it would be: a bunch of middle class people fail to have their dinner on a number of occasions due to increasingly outlandish reasons. The thing with this description is that is doesn’t exactly take into account the use of dream sequences, ghosts and a framing shot following the six friends on a walk through the countryside to… God only knows where.

The idea of a film set around the various failed attempts to have a dinner doesn’t exactly sound like the basis for a decent comedy. This is especially so since it is very likely that everything in the film is just the various daydreams of one of the characters during their long country walk. I mean how else would you explain a tea-house without any available beverages or the retelling of dreams by an obviously disturbed army lieutenant? Then there is the bishop being employed as a gardener who takes vengeance on the man who killed his parents, a cocaine smuggling ring out of the office of the embassy of the fictional South American country of Miranda.

In the end it is very hard to right about this film due to the multiple interpretations it offers and the fact that it is, in many ways, slightly batshit. It’s a reminder that as a viewer our perspective is completely at the whim of the director and that with witty writing and all-round great performances from the central and peripheral cast. It’s something that is only really best talked about with someone else who has seen the film.So if you have please leave a comment since… I need someone to talk to about this film.


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