That Obscure Object of Desire Blu-ray Review
A man boards a train in Madrid bound for Paris. He visits with the various people sharing his compartment and then spies something outside. A quick conversation with a porter produces a bucket of water, which he proceeds to pour over the head of a seemingly surprised woman. When he returns to his compartment his seatmates look at him questionably. Recognizing their curiosity he sits back to tell them a story…
The final film in the great career of Spanish director Luis Bunuel, THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE is a story that illustrates how love, no matter how you look at it, can blind. When Mathieu (Rey) comes home one day he casts his eyes on the new chambermaid, Conchita (Bouquet AND Molina) and is dumbstruck. He has her bring his evening drink to his room and attempts to seduce her. She refuses his advances and leaves the room. The next day he learns she has quit. Months later he encounters her in Switzerland, shortly after being robbed in a local park. It seems it was a friend of hers that robbed Mathieu. She tries to return the money but he tells her to keep it so that she can get back to Paris. He looks her up there and meets her mother, a woman with no support. He begins to buy gifts for the women, lending mother money and buying groceries, all the time becoming more and more enamored of Conchita. However, the more he persists the more she refuses. She informs Mathieu that she is “Mozito” – a virgin – which completes the fantasy in Mathieu’s mind. As the months go by Mathieu’s pursuit grows more and more desperate each day. Ah, the beauty of love.
Nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Foreign Language Film and Best Adapted Screenplay), THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE is a humorous look at how love sometimes blinds us. If you noticed above, I credited TWO different actresses as Conchita. Bouquet is more stern minded and straightlaced while Molina is more carefree. If I had to analyze this I would say that Bunuel used two different actresses to portray the different way’s Mathieu sees Conchita….blinded by his love so much that he can’t see it’s really two different women. As the relationship goes on, Conchita slowly relents, allowing Mathieu to see her nude but at the same time wearing a chastity belt. Mathieu continues to play/pay along until finally he has purchased a house for Conchita! The humor is low key but keeps the film moving along. A subplot of continual terrorist attacks (car bombings, shootings in the street) really does no more than jar you out of the story. At least they did for me. Still, I recommend seeing it, even if it’s to just catch the swansong of a master filmmaker.
Video: The transfer is fine, based on the quality of the print they used. The only flaw occurs at the occasional reel change, when the color fades at the splice. The film is presented in a 1:67.1 aspect ratio.
Audio: The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. The film is in French with English subtitles, which is the way I watched it. You can watch it with an English over dub but I wouldn’t recommend it. The dubbing sounds like it was done in a tunnel. There is minimal music in the film to distract from the story.
Like the film itself, the extras are presented in Foreign Languages (French and Spanish) but are subtitled.
Interview with Carlos Saura (12:04): Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura reminisces about first meeting Luis Bunuel at the Cannes Film Festival as well as Bunuel’s return to Spain and the regard he was held in by fellow Spanish directors.
The Arbitrariness of Desire (33:57): Co-script writer Jean-Claude Carriere discusses collaborating with Bunuel on the screenplay, as well as their work together on other films like THE MILKY WAY, THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY and BELLE de JOUR.
Lady Doubles (36:17): A very nice piece featuring the two Conchitas, Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina. The discuss their work on the film and how their careers were affected by the film.
Portrait of an Impatient Filmmaker (16:23): Bunuel collaborators Edmond Richard (Cinematographer) and Pierre Lary (Assistant Director) reminisce on the reasons Bunuel decided to dismiss Maria Schneider and have Bouquet and Molina take over the role of Conchita after the film had begun shooting.