Luis Bu–uel's 1978 film "That Obscure Object of Desire" has been rereleased with its novel approach of using two actresses to play the two sides of one woman's personality.
By ROBIN EISGRAU
Buñuel's last film, now revived 23 years after its original release, is a dizzying tango between Mathieu, a
businessman, and the young woman, Conchita played by two different
actresses by whom he is alternately captivated and tormented.
As the film begins, Mathieu
(played by Fernando Rey) purchases a train ticket then returns home to find
the aftermath of a scuffle. His butler tells him the woman who was there
earlier (Conchita, played by Angela Molina) has left, leaving behind her
shoes, panties and a bloody pillow. Mathieu tells the butler to burn these
things. He boards the train and Conchita, played in this instant by Carole
Bouquet, runs up to him on the train saying, "You can't leave!". He responds
by dumping a bucket of water on her. He then proceeds to tell the people in
his compartment about "the worst of all women" Conchita and the story of their tense affair unspools.
|THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE|
|Directed by: Luis Bu–uel.|
Written by: Luis Bu–uel, Jean-Claude Carriere.
Cast: Fernando Rey, Carole Bouquet, çngela Molina, Julien Bertheau, Andre Weber, Milena Vukotic.
Mathieu first meets Conchita when she works
for him as a maid. He puts the moves on her and she leaves; he then runs
into her in Switzerland (after her friends mug him) and he begins attempting
to woo her. These attempts are all futile; any time they come close to
having sex she refuses (at one point turning up in bed wearing a tightly
laced pair of chastity-belt-like shorts). Conchita and her mother get
deported to Spain, where they run into Mathieu in Seville. He buys Conchita a
house, only to arrive there one night and find her insolently having sex with
This film is drolly comedic in its depiction of a war between the sexes.
Issues of what a man will go through to attain the woman he wants and
questions regarding what it really means to love someone (Mathieu seems to
be equating love with possession) may arise in the viewer's mind while
watching this film. One wonders if back in 1977 (when this film was first
released) feminists were perturbed by the scene in which, after Mathieu sees
Conchita with another man, he strikes her and she tells him, "Now I know you
really love me!" See this with your significant other if you dare.
(Editor's note: From the opposite gender's perspective, the brilliant thing
about "That Obscure Object of Desire" is the way the two almost identical
actresses combine to play one woman's two personalities. One actress is a
sweet and loving Conchita, the other actress is a contemptuous and sadistic
Conchita, and we feel Mathieu's anguish, never knowing which of these women
his wife is going to be at any moment. So often, we feel exactly this way
about the inscrutable women in our own lives um, right, guys?)
|JULY 13, 2001|
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