Belle Toujours (2006)

MANOEL DE OLIVEIRA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  /, 2006.  , , , , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2006.

Billed as a sequel to Belle De Jour, this is more like a tribute by Manoel de Oliveira to Luis Bunuel’s classic, made almost forty years after the original.  Focusing on ‘s character, Henri Husson, who attends a symphony performance and sees Severine ( filling in for Catherine Deneuve), it follows him as he, seeming to forget that he was once the bane of her existence, tries to reconnect with her.  She does a good job of avoiding him for days until he manages to track her down and invite her to dinner, and the last half of this short feature (just over an hour long) is their candlelit conversation about the past, their regrets and their unfinished business.  Severine particularly wants to know just what it was that Husson whispered to her late husband after he had been relegated to his wheelchair?  Husson’s response reveals that the game of sadism and masochism that they played years earlier hasn’t ended even if the physical aspect isn’t the same as it used to be.  Subtly directed and played in a minor key, this is not an explosively memorable movie, but it is elegant and the actors are excellent, while De Oliveira, remarkably directing with assured strength at the age of 97, makes each moment count.

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