Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog


Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on July 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM


Luis Buñuel


IDEA:  A novice nun about to take her vows goes to visit her lonely, lecherous uncle. After the stay ends tragically, she takes in a motley crue of vagrants to alleviate her guilt.

BLURB:  Among the handful of great cinema provocateurs the medium has seen across the years, likely no one matches Buñuel in richly purposeful, gleeful effrontery. He was fearless, impudent, at times possibly even in over his head, yet his blunt criticisms of religion and class remain to this day near the top of artistic rabble-rousing. In many ways the perfect culmination of his formal and thematic concerns, Viridiana is a fully formed treatise on the merits of piety, faith, charity, and the extents to which any of those qualities prove lucrative, both on the level of the individual and of the collective. The argument here is that organized religion is a veneer of false idealism construed out of insular beliefs that do little but deny an acceptance of reality. This is illustrated in a mad flurry of subverted symbols and intrepidly demystified objects: a burning crown of thorns is compared with a record playing fluffy American pop; a girl’s jump rope doubles as a noose, then as a belt for a homeless beggar; and most famously, Leonardo’s Last Supper is recreated with a blind man standing in for Christ, and a metaphorical orgy as its aftermath. As a testament to Buñuel’s unwavering hand, none of this comes across as sour. Instead it is a veritable feast of nasty delights, scintillating, complex, and altogether glorious.

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