It’s safe to say I’m not much of a fan of Luis Bunuel, the famous surrealist filmmaker. That being said, he has nine films on the list, so I’d better get used to him and quick-like. While I’ve previously only reviewed his earlier, pure surrealist work, as well as Tristana, here we’re going to his later career, where he finally dabbled in those odd things called plots. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a hodgepodge of a film, filled with surrealist scenes tied together thinly by what others may call a narrative. To me, a narrative implies a straight path the story can be traced along, always moving forward in some fashion. Bunuel’s films are never known for their narrative, and this is no different and shouldn’t be.
The film concerns a group of well-to-do people attempting, despite numerous obstacles and interruptions, to have dinner (or lunch) together. Despite the plot, the film still holds many absurdist and surrealist moments; indeed, Bunuel could not escape from it, it seems. There are many shots, scenes, and occurrences that made me ask “Why is this in the film?” or “Why did this pass the cutting room?” which as far as I can throw surrealism, is the very point. To me, however, that sort of thing doesn’t make for very entertaining viewing; whenever I’m asking questions about the film, I’m not in the film, regardless of whether or not it’s the point or the intention. I can’t fault the film for achieving its ends, but I can at least stay resolute that it wasn’t entertaining to me.
If you’ve ever been curious as to what would be considered “anti-film”, surrealism is definitely your answer, and if you’re curious as to whether or not surrealism is your thing, Bunuel is definitely the man to start with. If you didn’t care for his pure surrealist works like Un Chien Andalou or L’Age D’or, this might be a little better for you, but not by much. I’ll give it an extra point for being well-made, well-filmed, and a good example of surrealism, but this just makes me even more hesitant toward future Bunuel works that I know I’ll have to get to.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10