The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental  |   Sub-Genres - Satire, Surrealist Film, Black Comedy  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

In this surrealist satire reminiscent of his earlier L'Age d'Or (1930) and The Exterminating Angel (1962), Luis Buñuel leavens his attack on class privilege with light comedy. With a narrative that interweaves flashbacks within dreams within a dream, Buñuel interrogates the absurdities of bourgeois ceremony and hypocrisy, as two well-heeled couples and their two friends, including a drug-running South American ambassador, can't conduct a dinner party in peace. Foiled by (among other things) botched scheduling, sexual desire, a theater audience, an untimely funeral, and armed revolutionaries, the sextet's inability to eat increasingly suggests a manifestation of their innermost fears, while Buñuel's repeated interruptions of the story cheekily defy movie conventions and straightforward interpretations. Eschewing both a musical score and anything resembling closure, Buñuel renders the film as unsettling as it is funny, as the bourgeoisie soldier on towards a meal they never have. Internationally acclaimed for its sharp wit and technical virtuosity, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie won the National Society of Film Critics' Best Picture Prize and the 1972 Best Foreign Film Oscar, confirming once again Buñuel's place as one of cinema's greatest experimental artists and satirists.