Sunday, October 28, 2007

Diary of a Chambermaid

Le journal d'une femme de chambre; Drama, France/ Italy, 1964; D: Luis Buñuel, S: Jeanne Moreau, Georges Geret, Michel Piccoli, Daniel Ivernel, Françoise Lugagne, Muni

Normandy, '20s. Young Celestine, who left Paris, finds a job as a chambermaid in a mansion of the rich Monteil family. But that family is very dysfunctional: Mr. Monteil already slept with every maid, Mrs. Monteil is frigid, her father Raboul adores woman's shoes while their neighbors hate them. Among the servants is also Joseph, a gardener who wants to start a Fascist party and seduce Celestine. After all the troubles, she decides to quit, but changes her mind when she hears that someone killed Monteil's daughter Claire in the forest. She is convinced it was Joseph and helps the police to arrest him. She then quits and marries the neighbor, a former general, but the police releases Joseph.

In the European cinema, many directors (Chabrol, Godard, Pasolini) started massively spitting on the Bourgeoisie, that social class that gained undeserved wealth and poor sophistication, starting from the 60s. Among them was also cold surrealist Luis Bunuel who in his drama "Diary of a Chambermaid", one of his 'normal' but still racier achievements, went even so far to connect it with the creation of Fascism, adding at the same time more moderate satirical elements in the farcical story about a dysfunctional rich family full of strange relationships - for instance, Mrs. Monteil asks a priest for an advice due to her frigidity - that created a negative influence even on it's employees, the Proletariat, causing a aforethought gardener to heartlessly shoot a cute butterfly on a flower with a gun or even says a maid that she is a "sub-human". Even though Bunuel is not for everyone's taste due to his dead-cold bleak point-of-view and lack of interest for his characters, "Diary" is a skillfully shaped film with a realistic story and a bizarrely abstract ending that will please most of the audience.


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