Friday, October 26, 2007

That Obscure Object of Desire

Cet obscur objet du désir; Drama, France/ Spain, 1977; D: Luis Buñuel, S: Fernando Rey, Carole Bouquet, Ángela Molina, Julien Bertheau, Andre Weber, Milena Vukotić

Spain. Mathieu, an angry middle aged man, buys a train ticket for Paris while terrorists blow up someones car on the street. In the train, Mathieu stops a woman called Conchita from entering and splashes her with a bucket of water. He then explains the passengers in the train that Conchita was his girlfriend and a real parasite: he met her for the first time in France while she was a maid and fell in love with her, but she disappeared. He found her in a poor apartment with her mother and constantly gave her more and more money, but she disappeared again. He found her in a restaurant and renewed their relationship. But she constantly avoided having intercourse, and he later found out why: she had a younger lover. Mathieu found her in Spain and bought her an apartment. When she expelled him out, he left and slapt her. They meet again in Paris, make up and get blown up by terrorists.

"That Obscure Object of Desire", the last film from bizarre director Luis Bunuel, isn't an especially inspired achievement even though it was nominated for a Golden Globe as best foreign language film and for 2 Oscars as best foreign language film and screenplay, maybe due to the fact that the author was 77 years old when he made it and wasn't in full shape anymore. The story about a young woman parasite who constantly exploits and manipulates the old, rich gentleman Mathieu, like in the fact that she constantly avoids having intercourse with him, is an allegory about the absurdity of love, male-female relationships and two-faced women - maybe that's why Conchita was actually played by two actresses, Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina, and some scenes are excellent, like the one in the exposition where Mathieu asks for a bucket of water and prevents Conchita from entering his train by splashing her. Later on, the satirical ideas practically disappear (except for some exceptions, like when it is revealed that a terrorist was actually a priest, member of the group "Armed forces of Jesus") but with time the story becomes overstretched without limits and filled with empty walks that are just there to prolong the film. The final result is only a sufficient film with damped erotic touch and dark messages, just a shadow of Bunuel's earlier films.


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