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Review: Tristana

Papist plot
By GERALD PEARY  |  November 21, 2012



Though one was an atheist and the other a churchgoer, both Luis Buñuel and Alfred Hitchcock were obsessed with their Catholicism. Over a lunch in LA they disclosed their mutual desire to film Tristana, a Spanish novel. The fetishist hook of the book: the eponymous heroine becomes an amputee, alluring an unattractive middle-aged man (Buñuel, Hitchcock?).

Buñuel ended up making Tristana (1970), and this Surrealist classic is being rereleased in a spiffy restored print. That means that, as Tristana, Catherine Deneuve, at 26, is a ripe young peach. And she's still a virgin, for this is priest-heavy Toledo, Spain. Pure de Sade (a Buñuel favorite): Tristana becomes the orphaned ward of her wealthy, lecherous uncle, Don Lope (Fernando Rey), who deflowers her. Don Lupe is a secular anti-Papist, and he ravishes his religious niece to blaspheme the Church.

Poor Catherine Deneuve! First she was in Belle de Jour (1966), where she was raped, defiled, prostituted. And in Tristana, just as she escapes Don Lope and finds refuge with a painter (Franco Nero), she gets cancer. One leg is lopped off, and the divinely beautiful Deneuve hobbles, on crutches, back into the arms Don Lope.

But stick about for the twisted finale: Tristana discovers the glories of sexual perversity, while Don Lope seeks the comforts of the Church, as they both head for a hellfire "film noir" climax.

  Topics: Reviews , review, Film Noir, movie,  More more >
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