“That Obscure Object of Desire” (1977) dir. Luis Bunuel

This trailer is admittedly lame, but Luis Bunuel’s final film “That Obscure Object of Desire” is pretty awesome.  This is a very infuriating film if you take it literally.  However, if you groove on the subversive surrealistic groove that Bunuel is emanating, it’s very very funny.  The film’s premise involves a middle-aged man (brilliantly played by Bunuel stalwart Fernando Rey) who meets an enticing young woman (played enticingly by both Carole Bouquet and Angel Molina … more on that below) who seems to be into the older man.  However, the young woman’s affections run from hot to cold to hot to cold to hot … to cold … to …   And, understandably, the older guy gets increasingly frustrated.  Hilarity … frustration … violence … what have you … ensues.

I remember seeing this in a college film class and the men in the audience went completely bats–t crazy over the machinations of the female lead.  When the older man (finally) fights back, the men in the audience erupted in thunderous applause.  Words like “bitch” and maybe the c-word were heard bandied about in the auditorium.  I can’t say I was that evolved as a human being when I saw the film, but even then, I felt a little weird sitting there with that going on.   And yes, that sort of reaction works if you look at the film literally.  But if you look at the film literally, you also have to admit that lead male protagonist is a complete putz and not worth defending on any level.  The fact that the female lead is played by two different actresses only emphasizes the lead male character’s frustration about never really knowing the woman who is his obscure object of desire.  Bunuel’s reason for casting two different women as the lead?  One of the actresses had to bail halfway through filming and Bunuel had to hire another actress.  However, based on the theme of the film, it totally works.

This is one of Bunuel’s best films and a wonderful cap to a splendid career of f–king with moviegoers.

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