Thursday, March 20, 2014

266 of 1001 Movies: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

It's difficult to watch a movie from Luis Bunel without taking a closer look at it, because you really have no idea what you were watching even if you think you do. I still don't really approach his movies with welcome though, but I do watch because well I do. The thing I think that makes his movies hard for me to watch is that he only focuses on what he hates, which tends to be two things, people like the bourgeoisie in this movie, and the Catholic church.

Summary: Rafael, an ambassador of Miranda, Simone and M. Thevonot, Florence, and Alice and Henri Senechal are all six middle-class people who constantly attempt to have a meal together. These meals are oddly interrupted by various events including one of the couples trying to have sex and keeping the party waiting, the arrival of a military, and the running out of tea at a restaurant. Along with the meals being interrupted there are a lot of dreams featured in the movie leaving you wonder which is a dream, and which isn't? With the way this group lives it's a wonder that it even matters though. The only thing they seem to be concerned about is that they could get trafficking drugs from Rafael.

Acting: It's not that the actors do a bad job, but when doing a French surrealist movie it seems actors tend to fall into a caricature. They aren't very emotionally driven, they are sort of stiff, and there is a string of humor that is resonated through their portrayal. In all honesty, it would be a bit like a modern day audience watching characters from a Wes Anderson movie. Fernando Rey is Rafael, and well Rey is an intriguing character, but it may just lie more in the story not being something that intrigued me. Delphine Seyring makes more notable appearances with her character as Simone that her husband M. Thevonot in the movie. Simone is an interesting character, but the movie doesn't really allot for characters like her to go anywhere with the surreal nature of the movie. It's the same for Stephanie Audran who is Alice and Jean-Pierre Cassel who is Henri. These characters have oddly interesting stories, but with no plot to really follow you are just plumped down into their lives. The most confusing character of all is Florence who seems to have no way to weave her into anything.

Filming: This movie seems to more so want to show us just how artistic Luis Bunel can be. He does a good job with the color and vibe. It's a lot like Belle De Jour in appearance. The colors are warm, a bit pastel, and very deep. It also mixes well with some of the dream sequences he creates that tend to be a bit dark at times as they mostly surround on the theme of death. Then again this was one of Bunel's last movies before his own death, so his focus on it seems to have to grown.

Plot: Well as far as plot there isn't really one yet the movie does allow for you to grow with the characters. The hugest problem is that you can tell Bunel hates these people, and unlike other satires there is not a one character that he intended to be likable. He even said that the most likable characters he found about the movie were the cockroaches. Where does that leave the viewer? There is no plot except some artsy sequences that do follow some story pattern, and characters intended to not be liked. They are selfish and out of touch with the world. I suppose many will like the point that Bunel weaves into the film, but I like to see growth and hope, and this movie allows for none. As much you might get are some few French comedic moments.

Most of all this movie is very French cinema. I would highly prefer watching Jean Luc Godard or Jean Pierre Jeunet if I'm going to have to delve into that world though. Something is so bitter about Bunel though, and it's way too serious all the time. Even when comedic moments are meant to be taken they are at the expense of taking jabs at others.

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