Luis Buñuel’s brilliant new comedy, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie), is so free in form and yet so lucid and wise that it could give the Surrealists a whole new lease on life.
By setting his film in the surreal world of dreaming, Buñuel casts himself as a jester rather than as an Old Testament prophet, crying “Woe, woe.” Awake, this assemblage might have been too much for the old man’s equanimity; while they sleep, it is enough that he skip about them, poking them keenly with his rattle.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a cosmic vaudeville show —an Old Master’s mischief. Now seventy-two, Luis Bunuel is no longer savage about the hypocrisy and the inanity of the privileged classes. They don’t change, and since they have become a persistent bad joke to him, he has grown almost fond of their follies—the way one can grow fond of the snarls and the silliness of vicious pets.
Buñuel attacks the Church as the perverter and frustrater of man—the power trying to hold down sexuality, animality, irrationality, man’s “instinctual nature.’’