In Luis Buñuel’s wicked adaptation of the Octave Mirbeau novel, Jeanne Moreau is Celestine, a beautiful Parisian domestic who, upon arrival at her new job at an estate in provincial 1930s France, entrenches herself in sexual hypocrisy and scandal with her philandering employer.
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I had a hell of a time finding this version. Everyone seems to prefer the Renoir version. Bah! Renoir turned it into a romance. Jacquot turned it into a melodrama. Only Bunuel could go this dark. Moreau is perfect. In this one the subtext becomes very important. Your expectations are thwarted. It's the dark humor and fearlessness that I love about his work with J.C. Carriere.
In many regards, a direct and uncomplicated film. Buñuel knew what he wanted to say, and it shows. And yet, it's ambiguous by choice, and this is its greatest strength. Moreau's performance is great as the complex chambermaid. The script foreshadows many details, and they pay off nicely. The critical look at society, from all angles is expertly accomplished. Probably one of my favorites by him.
Luis Bunuel's uncomfortable, subtle comedy is sexually-charged and mostly engaging. As intriguing as the characters are, and as complex as are their relationships, the tension is slight, which makes it drag in places and never quite reach its potential dramatic or comedic heights. Still, an interesting piece of work.
While superficially one of Buñuel's most lucid and orderly works, Diary Of A Chambermaid is regardlessly one of his most beguiling, inexplicable, and unsettling pictures, containing some of his most indelible and erotically-charged imagery––the snails slithering over Claire's corpse; Jeanne Moreau's lovely legs, footwear, and maid's uniform––amidst a tapestry of pastoral repression.
Contrary to the title, there is no confessional perspective in Bunuel's de-eroticized take, a political allegory about ineffective resistance to fascism. Moreau is inscrutability personified, moral ambiguity on two socially mobile legs. Does she have a subversive agenda or she just complies with the scum? Does she care at all? That is the question.
I watch this film at least twice a year. At least. This film is fantastic. Bunuel and Moreau?!?!?! What follows is a beautiful, dark, tricky, and sexual tale. FANTASTIC! I only wish the Criterion Collection edition wasn't out of print.