Le journal d’une femme de chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid). 1964. France/Italy. Directed by Luis Buñuel. Screenplay by Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière. With Jeanne Moreau, Georges Géret, Michel Piccoli. In French; English subtitles. 97 min.
Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather: In Luis Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière’s sadomasochistic updating of Octave Mirbeau’s Dreyfusard novel of 1900, a perfectly cast Jeanne Moreau is Celestine, the refined Parisian chambermaid who slowly lays bare the toxic underbelly of a fading aristocratic family in the provinces between the wars, humoring the lady of the manor in her cold ministrations over staff and house; the lady’s dirty old father in his predations of animal and maidservant; and the estate’s gardener-coachman in his fascist enthusiasms for God, country, and (she grimly suspects) a little girl’s innocence.
35mm print from The Museum of Modern Art; courtesy Rialto Pictures