Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Spain/Mexico, 1961. Unión Industrial Cinematográfica, Gustavo Alatriste, Films 59. Screenplay by Luis Bunuel, Julio Alejandro, based on the novel Halma by Benito Perez Galdos. Cinematography by Jose F. Aguayo. Produced by Gustavo Alatriste. Music by Gustavo Pittaluga. Production Design by Francisco Canet. Film Editing by Pedro del Rey. Podcast: My Criterions. Cannes Film Festival 1961.
Luis Bunuel made so many five-star films that it’s hard to just say which is his masterpiece, but this one definitely comes closer than most. Viridiana (a marvelous Silvia Pinal) is a sweet and innocent nun who goes to live with her dirty old man uncle (Fernando Rey), who becomes immediately obsessed with her gorgeous looks and is desperate to get under her habit. Naturally, kinky Catholic imagery ensues, until Viridiana is left to run the house by herself and uses it to take in the local poor people in the hopes of improving their lives. Lots of social commentary and witty observations, but full of Bunuel’s typical subtlety and wit.