"An exotic and brilliant hothouse flower of a film" ***** Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1972, is Bunuel’s most commercially successful and perhaps best known masterpiece. Taken under the protective wing of his French producer he was free to work without interference and turned in one of the most idiosyncratic yet oddly accessible films of his career.
The film centres around a dinner which is constantly interrupted by the comings and goings of its well to do guests as they attempt to project well-heeled respectability while carrying on surreptitiously with their somewhat venal personal lives. It’s a film about appearances and the lengths people will go to in order to protect their reputations - justified or not.
Debauchery, drug addiction, adultery, perversion and boredom are gradually unveiled as each of the guests in turn excuse themselves momentarily from the pomp and ceremony of the dinner table. Bunuel takes no prisoners, pulling his characters from the ruling elite of business, military, state and church.
It’s interesting to revisit this film 40 years on and see how relevant it still is. At the time, against the backdrop of communism and the Vietnam War it was seen as a fashionable attack on the establishment.