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Belle de jour, April 30

49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Sunday, April 30, 2006
5:00 p.m. Belle de jour
Luis Buñuel (France, 1967)

Jean-Claude Carrière in Person

In Belle de jour, Catherine Deneuve's beauty is a thing in itself. Like writer Jean-Claude Carrière (this year's recipient of the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting), Deneuve was a collaborator in Buñuel's vision, and she gives a knowing performance as Séverine, a bored-cold bourgeoise who discovers how good evil can be on afternoons spent in a high-class brothel where fantasy itself is a fetish object. The film is as endlessly mysterious and fascinating as the Chinese lacquer box into which Séverine peers—and what does she see? Don't quit your day job, Séverine. It takes violence, the more fantasized the better, to make any sort of crack in the lacquer. Belle de jour is L'age d'or updated and in color. As Raymond Durgnat wrote, "Glittery, cool and urbane, Buñuel's film looks just like Lubitsch à la mode—almost a design for living in the Playgirl era. But underneath it's a bleak and sharp surrealist object that one can't touch, or even think about afterwards, without bleeding."

PFA's tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière continues on May 5 and 6; check the BAM/PFA website after April 13 for details.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière. Photographed by Sacha Vierny. With Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page. (101 mins)