The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Screen 14 articles

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

1972

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Poster
  • The producer Serge Silberman told me that Bunuel [sic] had been depressed when he made "Tristana" largely because he was approaching his 70th birthday, but that once he had survived 70th birthday he became a new man. And that seems to be as good an explanation as any for what is most miraculous about "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," i.e., its buoyancy and ebullience, its youthful high spirits and farcical sobriety.

  • If LE CHARME DISCRET DE LA BOURGEOISIE registers as the funniest Buñuel film since L’AGE D’OR, probably the most relaxed and controlled film he has ever made, and arguably the first contemporary, global masterpiece to have come from France in the 70s, this is chiefly because he has arrived at a form that covers his full range, permits him to say anything — a form that literally and figuratively lets him get away with murder.

  • Such sequences of rapid, subtle, dizzying dissonances and incongruities—in effect, twists—give the film that hilarious onirism which is also close to the uncertainties and ambivalences of real or feigned attitudes in informal, off-the-cuff, oral culture. The themes of food and drugs modulate into that of poisonings, and the film's subtitles might be "You are what you eat" and "You dream what you aren't."

  • As Buñuel makes us fall for the same trick again and again and again, you’re tempted to chuckle and protest like an overpampered guest: “All this for us, Don Luis! Please, you outdo yourself!” Buñuel’s sleight of hand is exquisite, the tone perfectly controlled, the pacing not hurried by so much as a beat at any moment. This has to be one of the most completely realized comedies ever made, and, in its odd way, one of the most civilized.

  • Time is banished here, as politics intrude, death knocks, circumstances are misperceived and dreams are tethered to dreams within dreams. There is no through-line to a perceivable start and the Möbius strip of it all happens to be Buñuel at his most blatantly, accessibly fun. "What else is there at my age?" he seemed to ask.

  • Buñuel creates an absurdly comic and wickedly incisive portrait of the meaningless social rituals and polite hypocrisy of the upper middle class in The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. By interweaving exaggerated reality with lucid dream sequences, Buñuel blurs the distinction between civilized behavior and social indictment.

  • If The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie no longer stings as social critique, it still works as a cinematic parlor trick, stacking flashbacks and dream sequences with the giddy surrealism of the endless car pile-up in Godard's Weekend. Moving from vicious satirist to merry prankster, Buñuel lost little vitality in the transition.

  • A vintage as dry as an aged martini, Luis Buñuel's Academy Award-winning The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is not among the director's most lucid critiques of bourgey foolishness, though it remains delectable as a series of wry goosings. Its memorable set pieces, like coal being heaped into the engine of a speeding locomotive, fuel a dream-like narrative that moves forward with a stunning comic fierceness.

  • Luis Buñuel's 1972 film boasts one of the best titles in movie history and a cast to match... Buñuel invites us to savor their endless frustration and feast on their irrational impulses. Blithely discontinuous, Discreet Charm has echoes of Buñuel's early surrealist films, although its episodic, interlocking stories suggest the influence of The Saragossa Manuscript and Godard's Weekend.

  • It's all simultaneously scathing and delightful, a potent combination that's very rarely attempted and virtually never as expertly sustained as it is here.

  • It's arguably the Spanish surrealist's most accessible late-period masterwork, consistently amusing in its champagne-dry wit, even if it's never quite as trenchant in its autopsy of bourgeois complacency as, for instance, That Obscure Object of Desire. Buñuel and scriptwriter Jean-Claude Carrière supply the film's stellar cast (a veritable rogues' gallery of French art-house cinema) with an inexhaustible menu of absurd situations to overcome if they ever hope to complete their quixotic quest.

  • Forever the saboteur of cultural and societal charades, Buñuel shattered the complacency of modern viewers by creating a disquieting work that expressed his resistance to bourgeois values... The grotesquely surreal nature of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie shakes us to the core. But its playful form, exquisite irony and magical ambiguity provoke a sado-chuckle from deep within us.

  • What makes the movie so strange and transfixing is the characters' dry mannerisms in even the most outré circumstances... For all its intricate symbols and confounding narrative, Discreet Charm is never a "difficult" film. That is in part because it seems so comfortable in its milieu; despite the movie's pointed weirdness, you can lose yourself in it. Buñuel understood this world intimately:

  • There is no tedium in this continual anti-narrative acquiescence, even if we, too, temper our prospects and welcome irrational contradictions, deceptions, and a stream-of-conscious coordination of defeated momentum. Instead, we marvel at the clever capriciousness and the humorous inventiveness.

More Links