Belle de Jour (film)

Belle de Jour (pronounced [bɛl də ʒuʁ]) is a 1967 French drama film directed by Luis Buñuel, and starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, and Michel Piccoli. Based on the 1928 novel Belle de jour by Joseph Kessel, the film is about a young woman who spends her midweek afternoons as a high-class prostitute, while her husband is at work.[2]

Belle de Jour
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLuis Buñuel
Produced byHenri Baum
Robert and Raymond Hakim
Written byLuis Buñuel
Jean-Claude Carrière
Based onBelle de Jour
by Joseph Kessel
StarringCatherine Deneuve
Jean Sorel
Michel Piccoli
CinematographySacha Vierny
Edited byLouisette Hautecoeur
Distributed byValoria (France)
Allied Artists (USA)
Release date
  • 24 May 1967 (1967-05-24) (France)
  • 10 April 1968 (1968-04-10) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
Box office$20,246,403 [1]

The title of the film is a pun on the French term, "belle de nuit" ("lady of the night", i.e., a prostitute), but Séverine works during the day under the pseudonym "Belle de Jour". Her nickname can also be interpreted as a reference to the French name of the daylily (Hemerocallis), meaning "beauty of [the] day", a flower that blooms only during the day.

Belle de Jour is one of Buñuel's most successful and famous films. It won the Golden Lion and the Pasinetti Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1967.[3]


Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve), a young and beautiful housewife, is unable to share physical intimacy with her husband, Dr. Pierre Serizy (Jean Sorel), despite their love for each other. Her sexual life is restricted to elaborate fantasies involving domination, sadomasochism, and bondage. Although frustrated by his wife's frigidity toward him, he respects her wishes.

While visiting a ski resort, they meet two friends, Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli) and Renée (Macha Méril). Séverine does not like Husson's manner and the way he looks at her. Back in Paris, Séverine meets up with Renée and learns that a mutual friend, Henriette, now works at a brothel. At her home, Séverine receives roses from Husson and is unsettled by the gesture. At the tennis courts, she meets Husson and they discuss Henriette and houses of pleasure. Husson mentions a high-class brothel to Séverine at 11 Cité Jean de Saumur. He also confesses his desire for her, but Séverine rejects his advances.

Haunted by childhood memories, including one involving a man who appears to touch her inappropriately, Séverine goes to the high-class brothel, which is run by Madame Anaïs (Geneviève Page). That afternoon Séverine services her first client. Reluctant at first, she responds to the "firm hand" of Madame Anaïs, who names her "Belle de Jour," and has sex with the stranger. After staying away for a week, Séverine returns to the brothel and begins working from two to five o'clock each day, returning to her unsuspecting husband in the evenings. One day, Husson comes to visit her at home, but Séverine refuses to see him. Still, she fantasizes about having sex with him in her husband's presence. At the same time, Séverine's physical relationship with her husband is improving and she begins having sex with him.

Séverine becomes involved with a young gangster, Marcel (Pierre Clémenti), who offers her the kind of thrills and excitement of her fantasies. When Marcel becomes increasingly jealous and demanding, Séverine decides to leave the brothel, with Madame Anaïs' agreement. Séverine is also concerned about Husson, who has discovered her secret life at the brothel. After one of Marcel's gangster associates follows Séverine to her home, Marcel visits her and threatens to reveal her secret to her husband. Séverine pleads with him to leave, which he does, referring to her husband as "the obstacle".

Marcel waits downstairs for Pierre to return home, and shoots him three times. Marcel then flees, but is shot dead by police. Séverine's husband survives, but is left in a coma. The police are unable to find a motive for the attempted murder. Sometime later Séverine is at home taking care of Pierre, who is now completely paralyzed, blind, and in a wheelchair. Husson visits Pierre to tell him the truth about his wife's secret life; she does not try to stop him. Afterwards, Séverine looking at Pierre crying, begins to dream that Pierre is suddenly in perfect health. He asks what she is thinking about. She replies, "About you, Pierre."



Costume design

Much of Deneuve's wardrobe was designed by Yves St. Laurent.

Filming locations
  • 1 Square Albin-Cachot, Paris 13, Paris, France
  • 79 Champs-Élysées, Paris 8, Paris, France
  • Chalet de la Grande Cascade, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16, Paris, France
  • Champs Elysées, Paris 8, Paris, France
  • Rue de Messine, Paris 8, Paris, France (Serizy's home)[4]


Awards and nominations

Year Award Recipient Result
1967 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award Luis Buñuel Won
1967 Venice Film Festival Pasinetti Award for Best Film Luis Buñuel Won
1968 Bodil Award for Best European Film Luis Buñuel Won
1968 French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Film Luis Buñuel Won
1969 BAFTA Award Nomination for Best Actress Catherine Deneuve Nominated

Home media

American director Martin Scorsese promoted a 1995 limited re-release in America[5] and a 2002 release on DVD.


In 2006, the Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira released Belle Toujours, imagining a future encounter between two of the central characters from the original film.

In 2010, Belle de Jour was ranked #56 in Empire magazine's list, The 100 Best Films of World Cinema.[6]

See also


  1. JP. "Belle de jour (1967)- JPBox-Office". JP's Box Office. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. "Belle de Jour". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  3. "Awards for Belle de Jour". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  4. "Locations for Belle de Jour". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  5. per DVD extras trailer
  6. "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema". Empire. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
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