Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Diary of a Chambermaid (1964) - Buñuel
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A pretty Parisienne Celestine (Jeanne Moreau), comes to the county to be a chambermaid for the rich Monteil family, specifically to take care of M. Rabour, old frail father of Mme. Monteil, who is a snobby coldfish. Celestine finds herself the center of attention of sexually frustrated boorish man-child M. Monteil (Michel Piccoli), Rabour, Joseph the man servant, and a nosy retired army captain neighbor.

It being Buñuel film, it's an all out satire where no one is spared - the rich, the army, the religion, our heroine, and above all, the jingoistic whole France.

The old man dies suddenly and a little girl from the neighborhood is found raped and butchered. Celestine, suspecting the killer is Joseph, decides not to go back to Paris and stay with the family until she gets a confession out of him.

Even though Celestine is the only one who mourns the death of the little girl, it is suggested that she might have killed the old man during their foot fetish sessions- he was found dead clutching at the patented leather shoes he made her to wear.

With the use of wide angle lenses, dolly movements and zoom-ins, the film is technically impressive. But the two of the most striking images are static shots - of the dead girl's body obscured by a tree trunk and snails crawling over her lifeless legs and of the face of an old house servant, who's just told by Monteil to be sexually subjugated. Her tearful face says a thousand words.

In a world of Chambermaid, it's always the little ones, the powerless ones suffer and their sufferings go unnoticed and everyone is morally bankrupt swindlers. Celestine would go so far as bedding and marrying Joseph to admit his guilt and even ending up planting a discriminating evidence for the police against him. But being a petite-bourgeoisie, she ends up marrying the petty neighbor and becoming the Mme. of the house, ordering him around in the midst of the rise of national jingoistic fervor everywhere.

It's a great satire and impressively made one. But it's a hard film to like.

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