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“Cet obscur objet du désir” is Luis Buñuel’s last film. Similar to Federico Fellini’s 8 ½, the object of desire is a woman Conchita, played randomly by two different actresses, Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina. At the other end of the spectrum, is the eternally frustrated Mathieu (Fernando Rey), a bachelor who is past his prime and is persistently intrigued by this beauty. Mathieu is firstly seen boarding a train and excuse himself in order to dump a bucket of water on Conchita's head at the station. He then settles down to tell his fellow passengers (including a little girl and a midget professor of psychology) about the circumstances leading to such extreme behavior.

The story begins when Mathieu meets Conchita, a maid who is not financially comfortable and lives with her mother. At first, Conchita shows interest in his charms, but despite his increasing romantic feelings, she refuses to sleep with him. In the meantime, the city is suffering from a series of terrorist attacks, an apparent parallel to the romantic events that continually keep the two sexes at war. As the story unfolds Conchita's personality interchanges from a sly vixen to the portrait of innocence. Mathieu, together with the audience is confused as to which, if either, is the real woman and could Mathieu ever come to terms with her slippery personality?

Similar to numerous of Buñuel’s films, this film relies on a narrative told by an undependable character - a self-confessed chauvinist in this case who desires to beat up Conchita till she bleeds. The opening scene alone casts serious doubt in the viewer's mind, as Mathieu orders a butler to destroy various objects in a room related to Conchita and casually dismisses the man's apprehension when he sees blood on a pillow. The ambiguity is carried even further in aural terms; another vocal performer dubbed both actresses. In addition, the straightforward plotline is simply another trick used by Bunuel to mystify and confuse the viewer. The well-known ending resolves everything but still leaves issues tangling in the air. A new pool of imagination unfolds encouraging speculation around the mysterious human heart.

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)

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