Take a Drink: every time somebody talks sex
Take a Drink: every time someone hunts… animals or pleasure
Take a Drink: for politics
Take a Drink: whenever the neighbor does something dickish
Take a Drink: for clear psychopathic warning signs
Do a Shot: Haha, French snails.
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
One of the funniest moments I’ve ever witnessed ina film to this day is the scene in Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in which a rich banquet is interupted by violent revolutionaries and one successfully hidden glutton just can’t resist reaching up and snagging another turkey leg even though he’s bound to get shot for it. In one scene it encapsulated the humor, absurdity, and biting social commentary of Bunuel’s latter-day French films.
Here it is (about halfway through the video), in all its considerable beauty.
Diary of a Chambermaid was the first of Bunuel and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere’s teamups, which would later include the classics Discreet Charm, Belle de Jour, and That Obscure Object of Desire. It’s about a maid (Jeanne Moreau) who starts work with an eccentric rich family. She soon finds the man of the house only have two things on their mind- hunting and sex, and she begins to use one of those for her advantage. When Death comes a-knockin’, though, her priorities change.
This film is about as straightforward as noted surrealist and satirist Bunuel ever got, although never fear, the latter at least is present in spades. Diary of a Chambermaid skewers the repression and resultant excesses of the rich, particularly in relation to their sexual foibles. Many parrallels are drawn between these and hunting for sport, another decadent, visceral pursuit in which only one side’s pleasure bears consideration.
Was it good for yo… haha, I don’t care.
Moreau does a great job portraying the maid, whose self-interested cynicism turns to passion and revenge when the only innocence in this place is snuffed out. Georges Geret is the other standout in the cast, a gardener and handyman whose casual racism and fervent nationalism are natural extensions of his British exterior and personality. He’s a clear, unnerving psychopath, and Bunuel has no qualms extending that definition to all people of his ilk.
Diary of a Chambermaid is almost too conservative for Bunuel. It’s perfectly well made, but the script and acting do the heavy lifting while, outside of a nice visual metaphor involving a boar and a rabbit, Bunuel’s usual visual stylings barely factor in.
Not entirely a bad thing.
I can best describe the pacing as… disinterested, as its slowness drags out mundane events while underplaying more salacious ones, sapping their impact. This is particularly true of the ending, which feels like an out of left (right?) field political statement that may’ve resonated at the time, but which has lost a lot of its meaning in the 50 years since.
Diary of a Chambermaid may be lesser Bunuel, but there’s still plenty of sex, satire, and scenery-chewing to make it worth your while.