Belle de jour is a 1967 French film starring Catherine Deneuve as a woman who decides to spend her days as a prostitute while her husband is at work. The title is the French name of the daylily (literally: "daylight beauty"), a flower that blooms only during the day, although the name almost certainly is also an ironic reference to "belle-de-nuit" (literally, beauty of the night, lady of the night), a French term for prostitute. The film was directed by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel, based on the 1928 novel of the same name by Joseph Kessel. American director Martin Scorsese promoted a 2002 release of the movie on DVD.
Séverine Serizy is a young, beautiful Paris housewife who has masochistic daydream fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage. She is married to a doctor (Jean Sorel) and loves him, but cannot share physical intimacy with him. A male friend mentions a high-class brothel to Séverine, and soon she secretly tries to work there during the afternoon (using the pseudonym Belle de jour). The brothel is run by Madame Anaïs, played by Geneviève Page. Séverine will only work up until five o'clock each day, returning to her blissfully unaware husband in the evening. As the film progresses Séverine becomes entangled with a young gangster who offers her the thrills and excitement contained in her fantasies. The situation become more complicated when Séverine decides to leave the brothel. Jealous of her lover he tracks her down to her address where he threatens to tell of her hidden identity but Séverine manages to convince him to leave. Pulling out a gun, he waits outside for her husband to return home and shoots him three times before escaping and eventually getting caught by the police. Séverine's husband survives the event but is left in a coma. The film ends with Séverine escaping into fantasy once more; this time however there are no sexual undertones. Her husband is healthy again and they kiss before looking out the window on to the opening scene of the film.
The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1967.
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