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OPENS JULY 14

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What if a beautiful, elegant, sexually repressed Parisian housewife decided to work afternoons in a brothel? And what if she didn’t? Both scenarios are possible interpretations of Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film, which has as much fun toying with narrative expectations as it does subverting bourgeois sexuality. Out of distribution for more than a decade, the film stars Catherine Deneuve as Severine, whose masochistic sexual reveries have little connection with her staid life as the wife of a blandly handsome surgeon. Though explicit for its time, Belle is more playful than erotic. Buñuel implicates the Church, as usual, and puckishly integrates the two principal characters of Breathless into one, a young tough whose obsession with Severine may (or may not) destroy her double life. Made when the director was 67, the film seems to claim liberating power not so much for sex as for fantasy. At the Cineplex Odeon Embassy, Connecticut & Florida Aves. NW. (202) 387-1344. (Mark Jenkins)