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Classic Review: Belle de Jour

Posted February 27, 2012 by in Drama







Musical Score

Total Score

83/ 100

What We Thought


What We Liked :

Catherine Deneuve is incredible in the lead role Difficult subject matter dealt with delicacy

What We Disliked:

Plot gets too convenient in the end to keep the realism
Bottom Line

Belle de Jour never flinches from showing the inner-most desires of a woman who at her heart is a masochist. It delves into the psychosis like few other films can claim.

by Max
Full Article

Belle de Jour had to of been shocking when it came out in 1967. Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve, Repulsion) is the loving housewife, who reacts frigidly when it comes to being intimate with her husband. She needs something a little more erotic. She’s married to Pierre Serizy (Jean Sorel) a young doctor who dreams of having a child. Séverine has other wishes in mind as she dreams about being dominated by her sexual partners.

It’s amazing then how restrained the material in Belle de Jour remains throughout it’s run-time. Given it’s description it sounds more comfortable as an adult film, but like Séverine herself, there’s a high level of class involved. There’s a low-level of nudity and there is absolutely no intercourse shown. Belle de Jour is more considered with delving into the sexual desires of a woman who wants her sex life to be much more explicit than the reality.

Séverine discovers an outlet for her sexual desires. A family friend, Henri (Michel Piccoli), provokes her to visit a friend of his. Madame Anais (Geneviève Page) owns a high-class client brothel and entices Séverine to join her circle of women. Séverine will now be able to find an escape from her suffering because each of these men have fantasies of their own. One of the men is interested in BDSM and bondage to get his fix, while another, prefers to be dominated by his hired prostitute. These encounters open up Séverine’s mind to endless possibilities.

When Séverine is at work she is known as Belle de Jour (beauty of the day) because she must be home when her husband returns at five. She’s allowed these freedoms based on her elegant beauty, but that also gets her into trouble. A young gangster, Marcel (Pierre Clémenti), has fallen in love with her and requests her at every possibility. He is insanely jealous of her husband and blindly demands that Séverine should be his. The problem is that he fulfills every desire Séverine wishes for and she soon has trouble juggling her double-life.

Belle de Jour switches effortlessly between the dreams and reality that Séverine lives through. While the material doesn’t hold quite the same shock as it did in 1967, it never flinches from showing the inner-most desires of a woman who at her heart is a masochist. Director Luis Buñuel made a film that delves into the psychosis like few other films can claim and Belle de Jour remains fascinating and provoking to this day.

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About the Author


Chief Editor of Impassionedcinema. A film enthusiast who studies and creates his own films. Criticizing movies is his favorite pass-time.



    WOW she is stunning…. I think I am a little in love… Thanks Max!


    Catherine Deneuve – one of the hottest screen women ever? This woman simply oozes sex appeal on the screen……


    Deneuve is my new role model after seeing her in Poticeh: she was absolutely fantastic in it. I'd quite like to see this to see what Deneuve was like 40+ years ago. If she's foxy now then she must have been on fire back then!


      I saw a trailer for Poticeh and I wouldn't of been able to recognize her in the film unfortunately. If you enjoy her acting check out Replusion as well. It's more of a horror film, but Black Swan is heavily influenced by it.


    Oh this looks amazing! Thanks Max, this is a disk I have to get ASAP.


    This is indeed a great movie, a five-star film in my books. Many have tried to copy this style of sexual exploration for years now, but very few come close to Bunel's work in this film. It is like watching a master's class on direction. Plus Deneuve is simply stunning in the film, both in performance and in beauty.


      There's a scene in the early parts of Belle de Jour, which Deneuve in a car. Something happens and she reacts just how I'd imagine her character to react. The first hour is very true to how I would imagine it would go down. Thanks for coming by.


    Great review, I think I'm going to have to take a look at this sometime.

    Jack Deth

    Hi, Max and company:

    Excellent choice and critique!

    Catherine Deneuve absolutely seethes with smoldering sensuality in ways that countless other actresses have tried to emulate and have never come close to.


      Thanks for coming by. I'm surprised this review struck a cord with so many viewers of the site. I plan on doing more reviews of the criterion films I watch. Considering I own over 20 there's going to be a lot more interesting reviews like this coming soon.

      Catherine Deneuve impressed me in this and Repulsion, so I'll have to look into more of her films.


    I saw the email Criterion sent out saying the film will be released.

    Sounds beautiful … by the way … dig the reaction side bar on the site.

    Guess i never noticed it till now.


      Thanks about the sidebar. I don't know if it will be staying since I have a theme update in mind sometime soon. Check the film out, you won't be disappointed.


    Nice review. I'm glad that you put this on you site. Her fetishes are never explained, and looking back I'm glad they weren't because they are not supposed to be. That isn't what this movie is about. Need to pick up the Criterion Blue Ray since the last time I watched it was on VHS


      I'd be interested to see what they could get away with now. Back then this must've been extremely controversial, but compared to even the stuff that's shown on TV, its kind of light. The Blu-Ray is fantastic and highly recommended.

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