Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That Obscure Object of Desire: Surrealism That Works

Luis Buñuel's last film, That Obscure Object of Desire / Cet obscur objet du désir / Ese oscuro objeto del deseo (1977), does something interesting: two actors (Ángela Molina and Carole Bouquet) play the same character -- the elusive Conchita -- driving Mathieu (played by majestic Spanish actor Fernando Rey) batty. All characters play their roles unblinkingly, making the viewer have to readjust to each version of Conchita, a somewhat disorienting experience. It works.

I can't think of many other examples of this bizarre technique in film. David Lynch comes to mind (usually involving a character whose consciousness splits or fragments due to trauma). Also, Woody Allen has one actor play the same person in two seemingly parallel universes (one comic, one tragic) in Melinda & Melinda (2005); both Melindas are played by Radha Rani Amber Indigo Anunda Mitchell, but all other characters are different. Allen also interweaves two universes in Deconstructing Harry (1997), one based on "reality" and another based on a novelist's "fictional reality," that closely parallel each other.

In That Obscure Object of Desire, Buñuel (1900-1983) throws in a major background element: terrorists in the streets, intermittently bombing and shooting. This element brings to mind Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), another interesting surrealistic film.

For devotees of Sex & the City, there's the added bonus in That Obscure Object of Desire of seeing Carole Bouquet, ex-wife of "the Russian" in the last season's Paris section (2004), in a major role.

Today's Rune: Partnership.


the walking man said...

i don't need the movie to see the surreal scenes of two faced role players. I watch politics.

Mariana Soffer said...

Great comment walking man.
Anyway I just wanted to tell you that I liked a lot the movie brazil, that is amazing, that I watched it tons of times, that it understands reality so much more than sciences that study that.

Bye bye

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