Sunday, January 15, 2006

Day 47: "Diary of a Chambermaid"

Director: Luis Bunuel 1964
Jeanne Moreau plays Celestine, a maid who leaves Paris to work at a chateau. Her masters are an old man with a shoe fetish, his demanding daughter and her randy husband. There is also a nasty handyman and a feuding neighbor. Through contrived indifference, Celestine attracts the attention of all the men. Based on a novel written at the turn of the 20th century, Bunuel chose to set the film in the 1930s as a way to comment on France's dalliance with Fascism. Celestine at first appears to be strictly out for herself. But when a child is raped and killed, she tries to bring the murderer to justice. In the end, however, she reverts to form and does what's best for Celestine. Not an entirely satisfying movie, although it is well acted and directed.
Jean Renoir chose the same novel to make into a movie in 1946. Paulette Goddard played Celestine, and the film was produced in Hollywood with an Anglo/American cast. I haven't seen it, but what I can glean from reading is that Renoir's approach was much different from Bunuel's. Renoir, of course, had covered some of the same ground as Bunuel in "The Rules of the Game" (1939).


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