Some movies I only know through Tumblr, back when Tumblr allowed porn. Belle de Jour was one of those movies. I would see gifs of a pretty blonde either getting whipped or having mud thrown on her. I had a vague impression that this movie was about a woman’s masochistic fantasies.
A week ago I decided to give the movie a try. The movie opens with the pretty blonde lady riding with her husband on a carriage ride. He gets mad, has the drivers pull over, bind the woman and then strip and whip her. Then he instructs her to fuck the woman.
And then we cut to the woman, idly daydreaming about what we just saw. We find out the woman hasn’t had sex with her husband yet and he is terribly patient about it. The woman just looks sad.
The woman discovers that there is prostitution ring in town and she decides to go check it out. After a brief interview, she agrees to work as a prostitute but only in the afternoon so she can get back to her husband. They come up with the alias, Belle de Jour.
Or does she? I have my doubts. The woman’s life of a prostitute is exciting, scary and sensual. She falls in love with a gangster who is so rakishly wild and eccentric that he looks like he came out out of a romance novel. Matters escalate and her husband gets shot and a friend betrays her confidence. Everything looks bleak but in the final scene, her husband is fine and everything is roses.
Which begs the question, is the ending another fantasy of the woman or was the whole movie a fantasy? The director refuses to say and that is fine with me. I feel like this movie is a tribute to secret fantasies and normally, a “it was all a dream” would piss me off, but it doesn’t here. Maybe because it never felt real to begin with. In a lot of ways, this movie felt voyeuristic in the sense that I was directly inside the woman’s fantasies.
Although a bit slow at times, I can see why this is considered an essential movie to watch in the erotic genre.