Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie; Grotesque/ Satire, France/ Italy/ Spain, 1972; D: Luis Buñuel, S: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Michel Piccoli, Paul Frankeur, Stéphane Audran, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Milena Vukotić

Rafael, ambassador of Miranda, a Latin American country, lives in Paris. He is constantly bothered by some terrorist woman and is occasionally smuggling drugs. Together with his wife and friend Francois he goes to visit his friend Henry who invited him for diner. Since Henry explains them that they came a day too early, they all go to a restaurant, but don't get to eat anything because the owner died. Every day they try to eat together at diner but are constantly interrupted: once Henry runs away to have intercourse with his wife, then soldiers march in, or gangsters, or rubber food, or a play they star the end, they all walk on a road.

Surreal farce "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" has a deliberately senseless, episodic "story" revolving around constant interruptions of the six protagonists who never manage to eat their diner in peace, mirroring the absurdity of life, constant circumstances that serve as obstacles of our plans and dreams and the illogical reality that many people take as logical, but this time the director Luis Bunuel didn't completely manage the transition from a good into a great film which caused a little surprise that it won an Oscar (best foreign language film) and 2 BAFTAs (best actress Stephane Audran and screenplay), especially since his previous achievements had more sharpness. Despite flaws, like the anemic realization, the film still has a lot of things going for it, especially in ridiculing Bourgeoisie and creating satirical allusions: in one scene, a priests shows up in front of Henry's door because he wants to become a gardener. A soldier in a restaurant sits down by women and asks them if they had a happy childhood. The police is torturing a terrorist by giving him electroshocks in a piano from which even electrified cockroaches are running away from. A "nightmare" film full of "art for art's sake", but also full of symbolic messages and ideas.


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