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A tale of impossible desire from director Luis Bunuel. Mathieu (Fernando Rey), a widowed French businessman, becomes obsessed with a Spanish girl named Conchita (Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina). She claims to feel the same for him but nevertheless continually frustrates the realisation of his desire. Meanwhile, in the background, a series of terrorist bomb attacks are carried out by the Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus.
71uk Ese oscuro objeto del deseo by Luís Buñuel (1977, 105')
After Buñuel and Carrière's search for the title figure of their film failed in a first round of cast trial shooting (the famous new apartment scene, with Conchita and her lover in action, letting Don Mateo (Mathieu Faber, by Fernando Rey) only watch from the outside), where none did pass (not even, not surprisingly, Maria Schneider of last tango fame), they came up with splitting the role between two young women, Carole Bouquet (the more elegant) and Ángela Molina (the more playful).
Like for other of Buñuel's films, another railway station kiosque novel served as background: Pierre Lou˙s' Woman and Puppet (1908 translation of La femme et le pantin, 1898). Lou˙s (1870-1925) was a French poet and writer (of Belgian extraction), most renowned for lesbian and classical themes in some of his writings and known for "expressing pagan sensuality with stylistic perfection". A friend of Gide and Wilde, un décadent; although heterosexual, Lou˙s enjoyed homosexual circles.
Atmospherically similar to Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972), Buñuel's last film (again) plays in Spain and France. Against the background of increa-singly common terror attacks (a phenomenon that irritated Buñuel already for some time), a mad story of unfulfilled love. A compartment group of Seville to Madrid train travellers: a mother and her young daughter, a judge who is coinci-dentally a friend of Mathieu's cousin, and a psychologist who coincidentally is a dwarf, who had all just witnessed him pouring a bucket of water over Conchita's head, from the window of their waiting train about to depart.
Puzzled as they are, they ask his motivation for such an act, so the still himself bewildered Don Mateo narrates the history of his tumultuous relationship with Conchita. Dramaturgically, the action is real time before and after the train trip; during the trip, the pictures are flashbacks. What is it that Don Mateo desires: love? As co-scenarist Carrière put it, "some times, we are desirious, we like to be in a state of desire, a state which lift us above the customary platitudes of life, hence the final title to this movie seemed totally adequate for such a histoire sans fin".
Stylistically, Buñuel's last film (his 32nd) compares to his single action movies like Le Journal d'une femme de chambre (1964) and Tristana (1970). As is common with Buñuel, the film also denounces once more the icons of the Catholic church (also in education) and the traditional bourgeois assets (marriage, family, wealth, safety). Just as the fellow train passengers seem satisfied with this story, Conchita, who had sneaked on board, reappears from hiding and dumps a bucket of water on Mathieu. However, the couple apparently reconciles yet again when the train reaches its destination. After leaving the train, they walk arm in arm, enjoying the streets of Madrid, seemingly without end..
71uk Ese oscuro objeto del deseo by Luís Buñuel (1977, 105') 23 March 2012Read more ›