The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Movie Information

In Brief: If you’ve never seen a Luis Buñuel film, it’s high time you did, and this 1972 Oscar winner about six middle-class people and their interrupted efforts to have a meal together is a good place to start. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is more accessible than some of Buñuel’s work and might just change your mind about the whole concept of “art films” and surrealism as something incomprehensible or dry. Whatever else this film is, it’s anything but dry. Buñuel had the happy knack for mixing straight-up surrealism with a theater-of-the-absurd sensibility — and more than a little self-mockery — to make something unique in cinema. He made surrealism fun.
Genre: Surreal Comedy Fantasy
Director: Luis Buñuel
Starring: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier
Rated: R



The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie‘s story line — along with what in the film is and isn’t real — might not be wholly penetrable, at least on one viewing. However, it’s easy to grasp Bunuel’s central, playful idea about exposing the hypocrisy of the upper reaches of French society, a world in which knowing how to make and drink the perfect martini is more important than the fact that you make your money dealing cocaine. (It should be noted that Bunuel himself was very concerned about the perfect martini.)




The premise of Bourgeoisie is nothing: A group of six dubious pillars of society sit down to a meal that never happens. During various attempts at dining, an interruption always occurs — each time more bizarre and absurd than the one before. There’s not much more to the story line than that, but what Bunuel does with it is delightful, insightful and wholly remarkable. A true treasure of cinema from one its most distinctive masters.

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Friday, Aug. 7 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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