Diary of a Chambermaid Screen 4 articles

Diary of a Chambermaid

1964

Diary of a Chambermaid Poster
  • Despite the strained outward appearance of civility and cultivation—the devotion to cleanliness, fine, fragile embellishments, and refined decorum—this surface stability conceals dormant desires and domestic disturbances. Diary of a Chambermaid is a film built on taking first impressions and presumed positions, and delightfully pulling back the concealing curtain to uncover eccentric behavior and fetishistic fancy.

  • It has some splendid image-shocks . . . , a good deal of satirical comedy of bourgeois manners, and the duo of Jeanne Moreau and Michel Piccoli. But it is also, deliberately, a downer: dismissed as old-fashioned naturalism by many critics of the day, and imposing before us a uniformly grey bleakness.

  • First half works as a kind of sexualised screwball about a nutty rich family... then my heart sank halfway through when a Certain Event takes place because it seemed certain to result in political point-scoring (whereas before the house worked as a kind of microcosm), but in fact Bunuel somehow avoids cheap empowerment, bringing home yet again how dumbed-down and self-righteous our polarised political climate is.

  • Shot in lush, widescreen black-and-white, Chambermaid is a supremely elegant film, its graceful surfaces sometimes at odds with the cruelty of its story. Buñuel's typical injections of perversion and narrative non sequiturs quietly accumulate, so that early on you could mistake the movie for an almost conventional one. Perhaps the picture's greatest virtue is Moreau's central performance.