Belle de Jour (film)
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Belle de jour is a 1967 French film starring Catherine Deneuve. The film was directed by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel. It is based on the 1928 novel of the same name by Joseph Kessel. It is the story of Séverine Serizy (Deneuve) is a young, beautiful Paris housewife who has masochistic daydream fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage.
Séverine Serizy is a young, beautiful Paris housewife who has masochistic daydream fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage. She is married to a doctor (Jean Sorel) and loves him, but cannot share physical intimacy with him. A male friend mentions a high-class brothel to Séverine, and soon she secretly tries to work there during the afternoon (using the pseudonym Belle de jour). The brothel is run by Madame Anaïs, (Geneviève Page). Séverine will only work from two to five o'clock each day, returning to her blissfully unaware husband in the evening, but she attends only intermittently.
As the film progresses Séverine becomes entangled with Marcel, a young gangster, who offers her the thrills and excitement contained in her fantasies. The situation becomes more complicated when Séverine decides to leave the brothel, with Madame AnaÏs' agreement, after finding Marcel has become too demanding, and jealous of her husband. Husson has also discovered her secret as a potential, though unwilling, client. One of the gangster's associates tracks Séverine to her home address. Marcel visits her, and threatens to reveal her hidden identity, but Séverine persuades him to leave.
He waits outside for her husband to return home and shoots him three times before escaping and eventually being shot by the police. Séverine's husband survives the event, but is left in a coma. The police are unable to find a motive for the attempted murder of Séverine's husband, but after he leaves hospital, now blind and in a wheelchair, Husson visits him, and may have told him the truth.
The film ends with Séverine escaping into fantasy once more; this time however there are no sexual undertones. Her husband is healthy again and they kiss before looking out the window on to the opening scene of the film.
- Catherine Deneuve as Séverine Serizy aka Belle de Jour
- Jean Sorel as Pierre Serizy
- Michel Piccoli as Henri Husson
- Geneviève Page as Madame Anais
- Pierre Clémenti as Marcel
- Georges Marchal as Duke
- Françoise Fabian as Charlotte
- Macha Méril as Renée
- Muni as Pallas
- Maria Latour as Mathilde