The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Director: Luis Buñuel
Cast: Fernando Rey, Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Michel Piccoli, Julien Bertheau, Delphine Seyrig
There are many types of comedy but Buñuel’s source of inspiration is unparalleled. And this is due to the fact that political commentary, caustic irony resulting from the antagonism of the classes, surrealist thought and incessant satire are in play throughout the film without the need for a gag or punchline to achieve the desired effect.
Using the setting of a dinner, which combines the basic human need for food along with the ritualistic social niceties, Buñuel and his long-term screenwriting collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, create an anti-Bourgeoisie mural, depicting the ideology of its subjects, which unfolds in a timely yet diabolical manner around an entourage of Buñuel-like types who exhibit the class failings of the Bourgeoisie and their obvious lack of charm. Ambassadors, clerics, military men, husbands & wives, adulterers, masters and servants all become entangled with each other amusingly so, in a film about sex, politics, religion, corruption and the inevitable fall from grace.
The action is constantly interrupted without warning, the style remains steadily aloof, the tone is discreetly prickly and all these elements result in a film to be enjoyed evermore and the more you do, the more liberating the experience as it will distance you from your own hidden, and by no means charming, fixations on conventional cinematic narratives. The film won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1973. Ilias Dimopoulos