Luis Bunuel was 67 years old when he directed Belle de Jour. At the time, he was closely associated with the cinema of “social realism”, his surrealist collaborations with Salvador Dali in the 1920s nothing but a distant memory. It was almost as though Bunuel wanted to show the world that he was still capable of performing the old tricks.
Belle de Jour is, above all, an exquisite piece of work. Costumes, decor, clothes, hairstyles, colours (until then, Bunuel had worked exclusively in black and white): everything is made to look as though it was carefully chosen, chosen to say something that is, and the viewers are made to feel that it is their fault if they don’t get it. (Which they don’t, of course, but that’s Surrealism for you.)
This is also true for the settings, of course – and you can be sure that a lot of thought went into the choice for Severine’s (Catherine Deneuve) marital home, a magnificently ornate but ultimately soulless piece of haut-bourgeois architecture on the Ave. de Messine near the Parc Monceau.