Thursday, 11 August 2011

Places: France/Films and cinema: Belle de Jour (1967, Luis Buñuel).

Sourced from the Wikipedia 'Belle de Jour (film)' page...because I live dangerously...

Belle de Jour is a 1967 French film directed by Luis Buñuel. The film stars Catherine Deneuve as a woman who decides to spend her days as a prostitute while her husband is at work.
The title is the French name of the daylily (literally: "daylight beauty"), a flower that blooms only during the day, but also refers to a prostitute whose trade is conducted in daytime. The film was based on the 1928 novel of the same name by Joseph Kessel. American director Martin Scorsese promoted a 2002 release of the film on DVD. In 2006 the Portuguese director, Manoel de Oliveira released Belle Toujours, imagining a future encounter between two of the central characters from Belle de Jour.

Séverine Serizy is a young, beautiful housewife who has masochistic fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage. She is married to a doctor (Jean Sorel) and loves him, but cannot bring herself to share physical intimacy with him, which frustrates them both although her husband respects her wishes. A male friend, Monsieur Husson (Michel Piccoli), mentions a high-class brothel to Séverine, also confessing his desire for her. Unsatisfied with her sex life at home, Séverine secretly works at the brothel during the afternoon using the pseudonym Belle de jour. The brothel is run by Madame Anaïs (Geneviève Page). Séverine works from two to five o'clock each day, returning to her blissfully unaware husband in the evening, but she attends only intermittently.
As the film progresses, Séverine becomes entangled with Marcel, a young gangster, who offers her the thrills and excitement contained in her fantasies. The situation becomes more complicated when Séverine decides to leave the brothel, with Madame Anaïs' agreement, after finding Marcel has become too demanding, and jealous of her husband. Husson has also discovered her secret as a potential, though unwilling, client. One of the gangster's associates tracks Séverine to her home address. Marcel visits her, and threatens to reveal her hidden identity, but Séverine persuades him to leave.
Marcel waits outside for her husband to return home and shoots him three times before escaping and eventually being shot by the police. Séverine's husband survives, but is left in a coma. The police are unable to find a motive for the attempted murder, but after he leaves hospital, now blind and in a wheelchair, Husson visits him and possibly tells him the truth.
The film's ending is ambiguous and admitting several interpretations. This reflects similar ambiguities of earlier scenes which introduce the blurring of the line between reality and daydreaming. In the last scene her husband is healthy again and they kiss before looking out the window on to the opening scene of the film.


The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1967.


  • Catherine Deneuve as Séverine Serizy, alias Belle de Jour
  • Jean Sorel as Pierre Serizy
  • Michel Piccoli as Henri Husson
  • Geneviève Page as Madame Anaïs
  • Pierre Clémenti as Marcel
  • Georges Marchal as Duke
  • Françoise Fabian as Charlotte
  • Macha Méril as Renée
  • Marguerite Muni as Pallas
  • Maria Latour as Mathilde


Ranked #56 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.

*I've still yet to see Belle de Jour, though my best friend is an enormous fan of Luis Buñuel (her favourite director) and it IS a classic...I am a slave to ratings, I know. I will watch ASAP- a true classic indeed.

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