Belle Toujours (12A)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner20/11/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running list: 68 mins

A watchable and intriguing drama, with subtle moments of humour, although it's essentially a companion piece to Belle de Jour and doesn't quite stand up on its own.

What's it all about?
Directed by Manoel de Oliveira, Belle Toujours is a sequel, of sorts, to Luis Bunuel's 1967 erotic masterpiece Belle de Jour, in which Catherine Deneuve played Severine Serizy, a bourgeois, frustrated housewife who accepts a job in a brothel so as to live out her masochistic desires. In Bunuel's film, Severine is discovered at the brothel by family friend Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli), who attempts to blackmail her into sleeping with him and whispers something in her husband's ear at the climax of the film.

Belle Toujours takes place 38 years later, when Husson (Michel Piccoli, reprising his role) recognises Severine (now played by Bulle Ogier) at a concert and attempts to follow her home. Through a little detective work, he eventually discovers her address and invites her to dine with him, luring her in with a promise to reveal whatever it was that he whispered to her husband all those years ago.

The Good
Belle Toujours is more of a companion piece than a sequel, since we learn nothing new about the characters. Indeed, the film's blackest joke, of which Bunuel would surely have approved, is the way it teases us with answers to Belle de Jour's two biggest questions, namely, what did Husson whisper to Pierre and what was inside the mysterious box.

At first glance, Ogier seems like a strange choice for the role of Severine, but it quickly becomes apparent that the film wouldn't have worked with Deneuve. Piccoli, however, is excellent and it's both blackly amusing and a little disturbing to discover that the 38 years haven't dulled his penchant for sadistic mind-games.

The Bad
That said, it's hard to imagine the appeal of the film to anyone who hasn't seen Belle de Jour – ideally, the two films should be screened together.

Worth seeing?
Belle Toujours is an watchable drama that's improved immeasurably by seeing Belle de Jour beforehand.

Belle Toujours has been reviewed by 1 users
image
01 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (tbc)

Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, ...

image
02 The Theory of Everything (tbc)

Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson

image
03 Pride (15)

Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Imelda Sta...

image
04 What We Did on Our Holidays (12A)

David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Anne...

image
05 The Guest (15)

Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Ethan Embry

Content updated: 30/08/2014 01:24

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Night Moves Film Review

Engaging and provocative, this is a fiercely introspective thriller from writer-director Kelly Reichardt, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.