In 1967 Catherine Deneuve entranced audiences in Belle de Jour, Luis Buñuel's satire of sexual manners. 50 years on, and newly restored, it stands as a masterpiece of erotic cinema.
Séverine loves her husband, but is frigid with him. Her thoughts instead wander to fantasies involving masochism and humiliation. A conversation with lascivious acquaintance Henri (Michel Piccoli, born to play such roles) leads Séverine to work in an upmarket brothel. Here, she hopes to find fulfilment. There's no explicit sex in Belle de Jour but its powers of suggestion and kinky sense of humour make it supremely erotic. But where do Séverine's fantasies start and stop? Even Buñuel said, "I myself couldn't say what is real and what is imaginary in the film." Therein lies the secret of Belle de Jour's magnificence. Deneuve's superb performance, Yves Saint-Laurent's gorgeous costumes and Sacha Vierny's peerless colour photography do the rest. This restoration premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Winner, Golden Lion, Venice Film Festival 1967
It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best. – Roger Ebert
All these clean, lovely, well-dressed people preparing for their unspeakable practices are very attractive; and Belle de Jour is, among other things, Buñuel's first comedy. – Renata Adler, The New York Times
This surrealist masterpiece, a serio-comedy of manners which exposes the neurotic and artificial foundations beneath normal identity and behaviour. – Bob Mackie, The Guardian
French and Spanish with English subtitles
Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière
Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim
Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Genevieve Page
Retrospective/Restoration, Gender & Sexuality, Women, Cinephile