Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie [The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie] (1972)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie</strong> [<strong class="MovieTitle">The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie</strong>] (1972)

(In French, On TV, October 2018) I liked Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie quite a bit more than I expected, which is saying something given my usual reluctance toward surrealism and/or French cinema of the 1970s. Writer/director Luis Buñuel does have a few surprises up his sleeve, though, the best of those being the dry black humour of a film in which anything and everything can happen. Once you accept that Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie is pure surrealism (which doesn’t take all that long, even taking into account that 1970s French bourgeoisie was weird enough), the rest is simple joy as the film zigs and zags between dreams and absurdity. Violence abounds, but the film remains riotously funny even as the black comedy gets even darker. The flipside is that nothing means much, so it’s not really worth watching the film for characters or plotting as much as a series of sketches featuring more or less the same cast. Which isn’t to say that the film is meaningless comedy—while it’s strongest when it’s at its funniest, there’s enough of a graphic (at times unsubtle) illustration of hypocrisy to keep thematic engines running. Even for plot-centred viewers such as myself, meaningless isn’t the same thing as worthless, and Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie gives us enough narrative breadcrumbs to sweeten its own surrealist intent. I liked it more than I thought I would. In fact, I may even enjoy a repeated viewing in a few years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *