The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Director: Luis Bunuel
Writer: Luis Bunuel
Actors: Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig
Well, I know its very overdue but my last semester in uni just started and its been a real big mess. Nevertheless I wanted to try to get this out as quickly as possible so that I don't keep on delaying it as my work keeps building up. So, this film. I honestly have no clue how to react and what to say in this review. The film was just, ridiculousness and confusing. But from what I read from other reviewers that is the greatest appeal of this film. I am still not sure about that statement but nevertheless I am going to try to talk about this film and make some sense of it.
This film... I don't even know where to begin. I mean, I know I didn't enjoy it as much as the other surrealist films I have seen in the past month. For some reason, although Luis Bunuel is known as the father of surrealism, I could never get into his films. This is the third film I have seen from him and I just do not get what it is all about. I understand his influence, but for me it doesn't work as well as other films in the genre. I feel like the reason being is that, Bunuel does not have this sort of glue that brings his films together. They feel random and ridiculous. I understand we are watching a surrealist film, but it does need something to bring it all together. For example, personally Mulholland Drive is one of the greatest films of the 21st century in the way it structures surrealism and how it is implemented. However, a film like Eraserhead from the same director does not intrigue my interest at all. When a film goes to the deep end of randomness and ridiculousness you are left with two options. The first is to just admit that you can't understand the film and move along to the next. The other option is to watch the films two, three, maybe even four times to try to get a sense of this chaos. When it comes to films like Discreet Charm and Eraserhead, the effort seems too much for something that I have not that much interest for to begin with. Films such as Holy Motors, or Mulholland Drive are different, I would easily go back to them because during the first viewing there was something that could be found. Enough about this topic, I feel like my opinion may obviously change if I watch this film again, but for right now I have other films to watch.
So, onto the film itself. The film was interesting to say the least. The film revolves around a group of upper class citizens trying to have dinner. I say trying because that is the point of the film. Throughout the film we constantly see the group trying to have dinner yet failing for various and ridiculous reasons. Sometimes an officer comes in and arrests them all while another time you see a dead man at the restaurant. We are constantly trying to question what is reality and what is not. Since we keep on seeing Fernando Rey's character wake up after certain scenes are done. I feel like there is no answer to what is real and what is fake. It left me confused, and I tried to understand more but I couldn't, and that frustration led me to not enjoy the movie as much as I wanted to. Sometimes, as I have already claimed, not knowing is a good thing, but for some reason, not in this film.
Now to move on to something a bit more positive, since I have been roasting the film thus far. The reason I am being harsh on this film is because I know and feel like it is a good film, and I may like it after multiple viewings. But the experience I got from the first viewing really put a sour taste in my mouth that I had to talk about. Anyway, moving along. One of my favorite aspects of the film was the themes. The way the film portrayed themes of differing classes and the lifestyle of the rich was brilliant. Not only was it brilliant, but it was still relevant today. The film manages to show the viewer a timeless representation of the upper class and how they perceive "everyone else". I really enjoyed that aspect. Also, although I did not enjoy not understanding what was happening, I did enjoy the elaborate ways the group kept on getting distracted from eating. I just kept one waiting and thinking "what's it going to be this time?". Finally, the camera work, I felt, was good but I still felt like I wanted more from the cinematography aspect of the film.
All in all, this film is something. It definitely is something I will tell you that. It is confusing, its ridiculous at times, and it makes no sense. But some people enjoy that, and maybe you would be one of those people. As for me, although I did say more negatives than positives, I still think the film is good, but personally I cannot confirm that with just one viewing. So this review is solely based on one confused viewing of this film.