The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. 1972. France/Italy/Spain. Directed by Luis Buñuel. Screenplay by Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière. With Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Fernando Rey, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier. The 4K restoration was produced by Studiocanal in 2022 with the support of the CNC. Restoration work was carried out by L’Image Retrouvée laboratory from the original 35mm negative. In French; English subtitles. 101 min.
Luis Buñuel’s 1972 comic masterpiece, about three well-to-do couples who try and fail to have a meal together, is perhaps the most perfectly achieved and executed of all his late French films. The film proceeds by diverse interruptions, digressions, and interpolations (including dreams and tales within tales) that, interestingly enough, identify the characters, their class, and their seeming indestructibility with narrative itself. One of the things that makes this film as charming as it is, despite its radicalism—and helped Buñuel win his only Oscar—is the perfect cast, many of whom bring along nearly mythic associations acquired in previous French films. “Buñuel’s most frivolously witty movie…a cosmic vaudeville show—an Old Master’s mischief. He is no longer savage about the hypocrisy and inanity of the privileged classes; he has grown almost fond of their follies” (Pauline Kael).