Manoel de Oliveira's homage to Bunuel classic is no beauty in its own right

Belle Toujours

on June 08, 2007 by John P. McCarthy
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The lesson of this homage to Luis Bunuel's influential 1967 film Belle de jour : the minute you try to analyze human desire, its mystique evaporates. Michel Piccoli reprises his role as Husson, a Parisian who, in the earlier film, discovers his best friend's wife Severine (Catherine Deneuve) is indulging her kinky, sadomasochistic side by plying her gorgeous wares in a bordello. Forty years later, Husson spots Severine (Bulle Ogier) at the symphony and persuades her to have dinner. She agrees only because Husson promises to tell her what he told her late husband at the end of Belle de jour . Given the conceit's awkward execution, the only good reason for Belle toujours to unspool at the New York Film Festival is in deference to Bunuel. It certainly doesn't stand on its own. The answer to Severine's question is not Manoel de Oliveira's to reveal. He knows that and just wants to be playful, but the result is painful. No wonder Catherine Deneuve was unavailable. Distributor: New Yorker
Cast: Michel Piccoli, Bulle Ogier, Ricardo Trepa, Leonor Baldaque and Julia Buisel
Director/Screenwriter: Manoel de Oliveira
Producer: Miguel Cadihe
Genre: Dramatic comedy; French-language, subtitled
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 70 min.
Release date: June 8, 2007 NY
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