Posted by Larry Gleeson

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Severine / Catherine Deneuve embodies the frigidity of a woman altered and ethereal, distinguished and aristocratic, giving vent to her alienation in a distorted and neurotic eroticism. Two years before Belle de Jour, in 1965, Roman Polanski had evoked in Repulsion,  the double life of eroticism in Carol – interpreted, not surprisingly, by the same Deneuve – in an echo and parallel to the game, where Buñuel touches the most ambiguous feminine chords. Moving from its most sublime, almost beatific event to the more sordid and low,  Belle de Jour cages the viewer initially in ecstatic pleasure and dream of the stars and then the brutality of an eros that borders on the grotesque. But what makes it as real and close, is the experience of Severine: the eradication of the drives, the contrast between the ephemeral and the eternal, the soul and the flesh, with the latter always alive and well in the imagination of the director.

Tied to Breton and its manifesto, Buñuel adheres unreservedly to psychic quell’automatismo with which we used to define Surrealism, expressing the reality of thought “outside of all aesthetic and moral concern.” Severine is wealthy, middle-class with a life that slips between normal and depressing folds of everyday life and a husband tormented by the elusiveness of the feminine psyche, incompatible with the ordinary. From subtle analyst of oxymorons, Severine dissonant  and cryptic ‘interpretations reside in the reality beyond the form of reality circumscribed in space-categories, namely in the dream.

Beautiful day moves between the different lovers without distinction in actual reality and the sense of guilt towards the consumatosi husband in a translucent appearing dream: Severine is aware of his abnormality, of his being other than the moral and cognition that takes shape in humiliation and self-pity. The reality and the proliferate dream, are juxtaposed and contrasted without the viewer grasping the steps, elliptical as much as the banter the actors (as stated by the same Macha Méril) were allowed to grasp. The whole affair is shrouded in an aura of timelessness left, like one of the dreams where Severine is chained to a tree, penitent and with a dreamy gaze, taken by an incomprehensible rapture.

—– Elvira Del Guercio

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