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aka - Charme Discret De La Bourgeoisie, Le
France 1972
Directed by
Luis Bunuel
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie

The dinner party is the paradigmatic "adult" social ritual of the middle classes: a group of like-minded people get together to validate their world views and value systems whilst gratifying their taste buds and appetites in a showcase of "discreet" behaviour. Small wonder then that it features so prominently in the works of confirmed anti-bourgeois, Luis Buñuel.

In what is a kind of situational inversion of his 1962 master-work, The Exterminating Angel, in which the guests were unable to depart their host's home, here we find a group of people who can never manage to successfully enact the time-honoured ritual. Whilst this film does not have the hermetic focus of the earlier film, and has instead a more episodic and multi-layered structure that some may find meandering or re-iterative in places, Buñuel's targets remain the same - the bourgeoisie and its institutions.

Winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar it is one of the director's best known films and although appreciation of it would in one sense be enhanced by familiarity with the director's earlier films as a stand-alone satire it remains pungent in its attack without ever being didactic or exhortative.




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