List Film

Revisiting: The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (5 stars)

Re-issue of surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s scathing satire on the ruling elite

Revisiting: The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie

A 40th anniversary re-issue for Luis Buñuel’s classic film, a brilliant comedy of manners, in which half-a-dozen bourgeois folk, including a pair of middle-aged married couples, a younger female relative, and an ambassador of a fictional South American republic, attempt to sit down and eat together. Time after time however they are thwarted in their desires, whether it’s by mix-ups in arrangements, the death of a restaurant owner, mercenary soldiers on manoeuvres, or even by an attack from rival drug dealers.

‘Reality’ and fantasy are soon blurred in the script of regular Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière: seemingly plausible events turn out to be the anxiety dreams of male characters, and there’s the recurrent enigmatic image of the six protagonists walking down an apparently endless country road. Superbly acted by the likes of Fernando Rey, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Delphine Seyrig and Stéphane Audran, this is more than just a scathing satire on the political, religious and military representatives of the ruling elite. Ever the surrealist, Buñuel is also paying tribute to the poise and resilience of the very people he spent his whole career attacking.

Selected release from Fri 29 Jun.

Criterion Trailer 102: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

  • 4 stars
  • 1972
  • France
  • 102 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Luis Buñuel
  • Written by: Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière
  • Cast: Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel

A group of friends find their dinner gathering interrupted by a series of bizarre, mostly dreamt-up events. Not as savage a satire as Buñuel's earlier work, but he is certainly more assured as he fires at his constant targets – the church, the state and the army.

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