Director: Luis Buñuel
Year Released: 1970
Wizened womanizer Don Lope (Fernando Rey) acts as guardian for innocent, annoyingly meek Tristana (Catherine Deneuve) and at first assures everyone (and himself) that he has the girl's best interests in mind, only to seduce her and monitor her every move - she eventually runs off with a young painter (Franco Nero, who is strange without a horse and six-shooter) but bad luck sends her (tragically) back to Don Lope. This was the first Buñuel I ever watched (I was in high school) and frankly wasn't that impressed then ... nor am I now (I've seen a lot of his movies in the meantime): I still think this is too staid for its own good, pacing itself drably through a rather obvious power-dynamic of Older Man Controlling a Younger Woman. No one wins, really: Nero abandons her once she becomes 'castrated,' Rey eventually gets sick and dies and Deneuve's miserable and confined to either a wheelchair or crutches. I don't detect the kind of lacerating political commentary or brilliantly surreal flights of fancy Buñuel would take in movies preceding this or following it (his last three films are simply incredible) - this is a safe, ordinary narrative about people difficult to like or pity.