Belle Toujours

Film
3 out of 5 stars
ENTRE NOUS Ogier, left, and Piccoli sup on memories.
ENTRE NOUS Ogier, left, and Piccoli sup on memories.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

There’s something perversely fun about the idea of making a sequel to Luis Buuel’s Belle de Jour, the 1967 sex fantasy about a good housewife (Catherine Deneuve) gone bad. Alas, Portugal’s Manoel de Oliveira is not the guy to pull it off. Since his gentle 2001 breakthrough, I’m Going Home, De Oliveira has been renowned for a somewhat nostalgic vein of humanism—and for being very old (he’s 98). Buuel would never have rested on such accomplishments.

So even though the new film is set in a promisingly sexualized Paris—a light from the Eiffel Tower sweeps the night like a roving eye—its randy pursuer, Henri (Piccoli), has become the typically benign old dude recognizable from a zillion Miramax films. One evening, he spies his former conquest Sverine (who’s also changed, from Deneuve to the less enigmatic Ogier) and begins to stalk her. Just a doodle at this point, the film climaxes in a lengthy early-bird dinner, almost wordless, in which clinks of silverware and swigs of alcohol connote a kind of courtship. Both performers make the most of skimpy roles, raising an eyebrow or focusing a gaze. But only those who’ve forgotten Buuel’s psychosexual daring will find such modest achievements nourishing. (Opens Fri; Lincoln Plaza.) — Joshua Rothkopf

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