This is yet one more excellent film in the oeuvre of Manoel de Oliveira. It's another endlessly fascinating, intellectual, thoughtful, and dark film. It's not technically a sequel to Luis Bunuel's Belle de Jour, more like a tribute and a coda to the original story. You don't have to see Belle de Jour to understand this film, but it helps. De Oliveira doesn't try to outdo Bunuel here (except when a chicken makes a cameo), but instead has his own unique, fascinating take of the main characters from Belle de Jour (if you want to see a Manoel de Oliveira film where he gives Bunuel a run for his money, check out Magic Mirror, the film he made before this one). Michel Piccoli once again meets Bulle Ogier (she replaced Catherine Deneuve here), and asks her to dinner. He expects to "rekindle" their relationship, but he's in for quite a surprise.
This is a deceptively simple film. It's beautifully shot, acted, written, and directed. Piccoli is wonderful and charming, and Ogier gives her character an edge here that, dare I say, Deneuve might have missed. Richardo Trepa, a De Oliveira regular, plays a bartender here and he is wonderful, turning in one of his best performances in Manoel's work. The script is quite literate, and the first part of the concluding dinner scene is fascinating, as it is done without any dialogue. All you hear is Ogier and Piccoli eating. When their conversation starts, it's intense, real, sad, bitter, and very poetic. The whole film works wonderfully.
The only complaint I have is that the film is too short. It runs just over an hour (70 minutes), and I wished it was longer. New Yorker Video gave this film a fine transfer, and has some great interviews with de Oliveira, Piccoli, Ogier, and Trepa. The de Oliveira interview was recorded two days after the opening of his retrospective at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn. I met Manoel on the opening day of the retrospective(they were screening his latest film, Christopher Columbus, The Enigma, a good film, but like Belle Toujours, too short), and it is one of the greatest experiences of my life meeting him. This is one of his best films.