FRIDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2010
It was tres bizarre, as the French would say.
Catherine Deneuve played Severine, the beautiful and frigid wife of an adoring surgeon. (I have read that frigidity in far more common among strikingly beautiful women).
Bunuel cuts continuously between Catherine’s real life and her vivid (and violent and masochistic) fantasies. These turn her on, whereas her conventional life with the adoring and gentle Pierre, who is incredibly understanding and patient does not.
She hears of a friend who works part-time in a brothel, and then– though the lavish interiors tell us that she definitely belongs to the upper upper-middle class– volunteers to do so herself.
She find sexual fulfillment, even ecstatic addiction in the fulfillment of her masochistic impulses in paid-for, often weird sex, and begins to unwind with Pierre.
One of her customers develops a possessive adoration for her. He shoots Pierre, who survives, paralyzed, blinded, dumb, listless. Severine tenderly nurses him.
Finally, a friend tells Pierre the truth about Severine to release him from the guilt of being a burden to his innocent wife.
In the film’s puzzling conclusion, we first see that the telling kills Pierre. Then however, we hear the carriage bells which signal Severine’s drift into sexual fantasy, but the carriage is empty.
Has she given up her vivid life of sexual fantasy, as women often do, to accept reality? Or does the ending signify that the whole thing was a fantasy.
A very annoying ending.
Deveuve is absolutely gorgeous (dress by Yves Saint Laurent) as a cool, untouchable ice-maiden, and the sets are incredibly lavish and beautiful. An absorbing film–though marred by its conclusion.