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Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

1 rating: 5.0
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Genre: Drama, Comedy
Release Date: May 12, 2000
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Riveting satire of the upper-class snobs.

  • Jul 16, 2011
**** out of ****

There's something that's always bothered me about Hollywood movies, yet it's something that I never knew bothered me until now. The thing that irritates, troubles, and challenges me is the fact that almost all Hollywood films - good or bad - must have a point; they must make sense. They have a narrative that's genuinely easy to follow, they usually tend to have characters that we like and can relate to. I don't mind this, but then again, it's like I said; it bothers me the slightest bit, and that's good enough for me.

I bring this up at this moment because Luis Buñuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" does not make sense; and it almost doesn't have much of a point beyond existence. It's a peculiar film that is meant to confuse; but through trickery, not through muddled screen-writing. The filmmaker must enjoy seeing us scratch our heads with puzzled faces; and he must like it every time we do it. Buñuel is known for repeating himself in some of his movies, but only because people like this quality about the man.

Now, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" is about a group of bourgeois acquaintances who make several attempts to sit down and enjoy a nice dinner. The first attempt fails because they arrive at a time when the meal had not been planned or prepared. The second attempt is also not a success because the manager of the building which they would eat in had just passed away, that very moment.

Man, I could go on-and-on about how many times this grand dinner fails to ensue, but I won't spoil too much. "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" is a dish best served cold. You shouldn't know too much or too little about it. Hell, the only thing I personally believe you need to know about it when going in is that it's about people who sit down, multiple times, to eat, but never actually get down to it.

Throughout the film, there are some fascinating talks and depictions of dreams. Within these dreams are ghosts and voices that taunt, but cannot be heard. I loved the scene in which a speaking solider tells the dinner guests of his dream, in which he walks a lonely city road, but cannot find anyone who he had wanted to see. There are many complications with these characters throughout the movie, although few of them are actually characterized as many would hope they would be.

But this is not your average movie. In fact, no surrealist film should be. Buñuel is a master when it comes to recycling ideas and even premises, or styles, and making us interested all over again. His fans will love this film, and maybe, just maybe, so will newcomers. It's fascinating, and it's often times funny; and sometimes even startling. You know you're watching a one-of-a-kind film when the dinner guests find out they're on a stage, acting in front of an audience full of people, although the sequence later proves to be nothing more than a dream.

Look. There's not much else I can say for this movie. It is what it is; well-written, well-directed trickery. The surrealism works, although it's not as extreme as I expected it to be. The visuals are not what matters here; what matters here, is ultimately, what the film wants to do and how much of that it accomplishes. Some may argue that it's not perfect, but I have a good counter-attack for that one: how is it not? The film is interesting, perhaps even intellectual. It is confusing, but decidedly so. It could not have been made any other way, and I openly love it as it is. This is a perfect movie; one of director Buñuel's best. See it because it exists, and because it's as good as it is, and there's really no other reasons beyond those.

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