The unchallenged classic of elegant kink, wrought by the cinema’s great surrealist Luis Buñuel on the cool beauty of Catherine Deneuve, returns, direct from its 50th-birthday celebrations in Cannes in a stunning new 4K restoration.
“Catherine Deneuve is married to the handsomest, wealthiest young doctor in the land, but she can’t bear to have him touch her – instead, she spends her afternoons in a discreet Paris brothel, brusquely handled by gangsters, kinksters, and one Kalmyk with a magic box. Between workdays she dreams of even more humiliating encounters, starring her husband and different kinds of knots. The endless appeal of Belle de Jour, I won’t be the first to say, is its insistence on the fantasy and the reality; one doesn’t replace or resolve the other, just as cobbling together an origin story to explain our most singular obsessions cannot exorcise them. As Buñuel knew, a shoe is a shoe is a shoe – unless it’s so much more.”— Elina Mishuris, The L Magazine
“If, for us jaded children and grandchildren of the 60s, 40 years of bombardment by explicit sexual imagery has made that [original] impact unrecoverable, the undiminished power of the film resides more in the mesmeric audacity of Buñuel’s method. The productive friction – be it between the salacious material and the ‘chaste’ formality of how it’s observed; the ersatz ‘elegance’ of the salon and the perverse etiquettes of the Yves Saint Laurent-clothed, cigarette-chewing prostitutes and their clients; or the hallucinatory melding of fantasy and reality – still generates heat like a nuclear reactor.”— Wally Hammond, Time Out