Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Bunuel's latest good but dull

Cleveland Press March 22, 1971

Spanish film director Luis Bunuel can be counted on to cover certain areas in varying degrees in all his movies, notably what he feels are hypocrisies in morality, religion and sex. In "Belle de Jour," also with Catherine Deneuve, he dwelt on another of his favorite themes -- the desirable woman and the way she punishes men.

"Tristana" is a typical Bunel movie though far less erotic than "Belle de Jour" and not so surrealistic as "Milky Way."

Once more Miss Deneuve is the desirable beauty -- a young innocent at first, recently orphaned and left in the care of a guardian, Fernando Rey. Rey is an aging lecher, faithful to the church's teachings in all respects but one -- sex. Before long the girl is both his ward and his mistress

The man preaches a message of freedom and the girl takes him at his word, running off with a handsome artist (Franco Nero).

LATER SHE returns, ill with cancer and near death. To save her life her leg must be amputated. Now, the old man has his beautiful woman to himself but she has become a haughty monster. She finally agrees to marry him but it is only part of her plan of revenge. Eventually she causes his death.

Most of this is pretty dull going and when the dullness is relieved it is only with Bunuel's grotesque symbolism. The girl dreams her guardian's severed head is part of a bell clapper. Bunel photographs her at the piano, one leg working the foot pedals, her artificial limb off to one side on the sofa.

Rey is excellent and acts in a grand manner. Miss Deneuve dominates the movie with her cool beauty, but the coolness finally becomes chillingly grotesque in the handling by Bunuel.