XL Popcorn – Belle de Jour

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
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Title: Belle de Jour
Director: Luis Buñuel
Year: 1967
Country: France

Well, I had to break my recent streak of American films at some point. Probably helped that I haven’t listened to a movie podcast for a while and had the urge to follow-up with a viewing. So why not a French movie starring one of my favourite French actresses?

Going into this I had no idea what Belle de Jour was about. All I knew is that this was likely to be interesting (because of Luis Buñuel) and not be like any of the new wave French films that continue to turn me off. I probably would have known more about this film if I had ever watched The Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

To cut a long story short, Belle de Jour is a film about a bored housewife (that daydreams about being sexually dominated) who becomes a prostitute. So that her husband doesn’t find out she only does this the afternoon, thus earning her the name ‘Belle de Jour’, or ‘Lady of the Day’. As with all things, the moment she gets into it and starts to enjoy it everything starts to fall apart.

One thing that’s interesting about this film is how you spend so much time in Belle’s head that you are not always sure of whether you’re in the real world or in one of her fantasies. Usually it’s clean cut, but there are times (such as the ending) where it feels ambiguous. My favourite instance (which was also the weirdest) of this was when her client asked her to pretend to be his dead sister lying in a coffin so he could get his rocks off. As an audience member I think I was as confused as she was.

I really did enjoy this film, even if just for the interesting take on suburban prostitution. It’s nowhere near as risque as In The Realm of the Senses (then again… what is). I’ve also got to thinking that Belle de Jour is the third Catherine Deneuve film I have seen for the list after Repulsion and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. With her talent and her looks it is little wonder that she still has a number of films on the list yet for me to see. Who knows, maybe  either The Last Metro or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg will be the next film I see.

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