That Obscure Object of Desire (1977) - Rotten Tomatoes

That Obscure Object of Desire1977

That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)



Critic Consensus: That Obscure Object of Desire is a frequently unsettling treatise on the quixotic nature of lust and love.

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Movie Info

Iconoclastic Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel bade "adios" to admirers and detractors alike with 1977's That Obscure Object of Desire (Cet Obscur Objet du Desir) is no less challenging and outrageous than the director's earlier films. Bunuel "regular" Fernando Rey plays a wealthy, obsessive S&M freak who falls in love with a beautiful Spanish maiden, played in some scenes by Carole Bouquet, in others by Angela Molina (Why two actresses? Bunuel never explains). Arranging to hire the girl as a maid, Rey becomes her willing emotional slave, enduring her insistence upon withholding sex from him while she parades around with a younger lover. No matter how badly the girl treats Rey (she protests that she loves him, even as she habitually walks out on him) he is willing to follow her to the ends of the earth--or at least to the out-of-nowhere terrorist bombing that climaxes this film. That Obscure Object of Desire was based on Pierre Louys' novel The Woman and the Puppet, previously filmed in 1929, 1935 (as Josef Von Sternberg's The Devil is a Woman) and 1960.

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Fernando Rey
as Mathieu
Pierre Pieral
as Psychologist
María Asquerino
as Encarnación
Ellen Bahl
as Manolita
Auguste Carriere
as Woman in Showcase
Jean-Claude Montalban
as Waiter in Bar
Bernard Musson
as Deporting Policeman
as Concierge
David Dyno Rocha
as El Morenito
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Critic Reviews for That Obscure Object of Desire

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (5)

[Bunuel's] film is filled with small, droll touches, with tiny peculiarities of behavior, with moral anarchy, with a cynicism about human nature that somehow seems, in his hands, almost cheerful.

July 27, 2012 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

From Un Chien Andalou to That Obscure Object of Desire, Luis Buñuel spent almost 50 years cataloging the frustrated romantic desires of his characters.

September 17, 2003 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

With an effortlessness matched by no other director today, Buñuel creates a vision of a world as logical as a theorem, as mysterious as a dream, and as funny as a vaudeville gag.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 5/5

One of the director's later works, That Obscure Object of Desire, examines the puzzle of sexual politics.

January 24, 2002

A mature commentary on the invisible line between passion and absurdity -- erotic, political, and religious.

August 16, 2001 | Rating: A

If this sounds rather conventional for Buñuel, be aware that the role of the temptress is played by not one but two actresses.

January 24, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for That Obscure Object of Desire


A rich old man (Fernando Rey) courts 18-year old Conchita (who, with no explanation, is played by two different actresses) over the years, but she seems to be toying with him, and he never achieves the object of his desire. In Bunuel's previous THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE (1972) the attendees at a dinner party could never eat because of continual interruptions; in this droll comedy, Rey can never... you know.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

'what do I have to do? what do I have to prove my love to you'

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

Now this is a lot of fun. Luis Bunuel's final film, "That Obscure Object of Desire" charts the relevant yet rocky terrain of passion vs. obsession and love vs. absurdity. Bunuel does some really intriguing things with casting, cross cutting stories and the actors have fun with their wacky and juxtapositional dialogue. I love movies about 'emotional terrorism' and this is one of the earlier films to probe the theme. It's funny, timely (even though it was released in 1977) and intriguing.

Steven Carrier
Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

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