“Belle de jour has a scene that in hindsight I realised is the seed for The Duke of Burgundy: it’s when the client playing the butler in the bordello is getting told off by the madame. She gets a line wrong and he asks her to do it again… I realised that’s the whole of my film in that one scene. That level of artifice and theatricality was incredible.”
- Peter Strickland
Delightfully French in its frankness whilst languidly probing the trials of exploring sexuality and the consequences of leading secret lives, Luis Buñuel’s sadomasochistic playground runs rife with bored housewives, the temptations of living dangerously, and the fantasies that ignite an insatiable appetite for anyone but a dutiful husband.
Catherine Deneuve plays bourgeois Severine who seeks work at a Parisian brothel while her husband is away at work during the day. Named Belle de Jour to reflect her unique hours, Severine’s fantasies of violence and humiliation are allowed free reign as she drifts ever further from her life as a kept woman. Constantly questioning her own deceptions, her exploits bring her closer to self-destruction with every passing day. With a gorgeous naiveté that proves as dangerous as it is seductive, Buñuel’s masterful film remains a timeless classic and a must-see for every generation.
The film that launched a thousand homages, Belle de Jour inspired Peter Strickland to linger in the discomfort and comedy of the games people play, and the distressing disconnect from intimacy that drives desperate and dark decisions.