Coincidences abound. “Belle de Jour,” was in my queue and I had just read about how popular the BDSM book, 50 Shades of Grey, was with the soccer mom set. It’s was written by a British former television exec, and mother of two. And the fact that a real New Jersey soccer mom just got busted for being a madam at a high class brothel in New York. What is going on, ladies? I don’t know how you have the energy for sex, much less kinky sex? It seems like SO much work to me.
Anyhoo, here it is and I admit, film geek that I am, have not seen it until now. Always heard about it, admired Bunel’s work, but never saw it. Maybe the subject matter was a little to risque to be covered in school. It was also tied up in a legal mess and re-released theatrically in 1994, by Miramax Zoe. My limited French translated “Belle de Jour” as beauty of the day, which I thought was a reference to her working in a brothel. But it’s actually a reference to a day lily, which the French call belle de jour, a flower that only blooms during the day, and Severine only works during the day. But I think both interpretations work.
There’s a quick cut and you get a glimpse of Severine in a questionable circumstance when’s she’s about 10 or 11. Maybe that’s why she escapes into her fantasies. Her husband comments that she’ll never grow up, she comes off childlike in many ways.
When I read that Yves Saint Laurent provided her clothes, I was excited, but was disappointed that they’re aren’t that many wardrobe changes! WTF Yves! She was his muse and the face of his cosmetics line in the 70’s.
Severine gets involved with a gangster, and he shoots Pierre in a jealous rage. Pierre ends up blind and paralyzed. His friend Mr. Husson, knows what Severine’s been up to, and tells her that he is going to tell Pierre. Her actions have done irreparable damage to Pierre and their marriage. Only blinded, Pierre sees his wife for what she truly is. She has always withheld sex from him, and now he’s been deprived of his virility forever. Mr. Husson leaves, and Severine goes back to check on Pierre. She sits, then sees him take off his glasses and walk.
This ending is ambiguous, is she fantasizing? Or was Pierre being injured a fantasy? Was the whole thing a fantasy? I think her mind is fleeing reality by fantasizing that everything is OK, that Pierre is fine, and they’re the same as they were before. The film shows the gangsters in their element without Severine around, so I think Bunel is saying they are real.
What a trip! Check it out.