Luis Buñuel’s last film, adapted from the Pierre Louys novel (about a woman who drives a man to distractions of frustrated desire) also served as a basis for Sternberg’s The Devil Is a Woman. Full of echoes from Buñuel’s earlier work, it might almost be seen as a summation of his preoccupation with the connection between sex and violence, first annotated in L’Age d’or.
Recounted in flashback are the romantic perils of Mathieu, a middle-aged French sophisticate as he falls for his nineteen-year-old former chambermaid. Buñuel’s great coup here is to have the object of the hero’s lusts played by two different actresses, with the alternation of svelte coolness and steamy voluptuousness lending teasing credibility to the way in which his ardour is cruelly cooled and heated by turns.
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