Though it may not equal the sublimity of his three last features, Luis Buñuel's 1967 masterpiece remains a seminal work that clarifies his relationship with Hitchcock. Like Hitchcock, Buñuel was a prude with a strong religious background and a highly developed sense of the kinky and transgressive; what he does here with Catherine Deneuve, whom he used again memorably in Tristana, parallels Hitchcock's encounters with Tippi Hedren. Adapting a novel by Joseph Kessel, Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carriere recount the story of a frigid but devoted upper-class housewife (Deneuve) who secretly works at a high-class brothel to satisfy her masochistic impulses. Placing her fantasies, dreams, and recollections on the same plane as her everyday adventures, Buñuel comes closer to the French New Wave than he did before or after, and much of his secondary cast reinforces this association, including Michel Piccoli, Macha Meril, and Pierre Clementi as a dandyish gangster. In French with subtitles. 100 min.
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