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Film / That Obscure Object of Desire

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Cet obscur objet du désir (in English, That Obscure Object of Desire) is Luis Buñuel's final film, released in 1977.

The movie is a Black Comedy Drama about the May–December Romance of a well-to-do older man, Mathieu (Buñuel regular Fernando Rey), and the young and beautiful Conchita. She claims to be 18, though she is obviously not, but the strangest thing about her is that her appearance interchanges into that of two women (by virtue of her being played by two actresses, Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina). In any case, the romance is otherwise utterly weird, as Conchita in both incarnations never gives in to the advances of Mathieu; at times she flees from him but on other occasions she appears ready to let him have his way with her... but in the last moment she never does. He becomes obsessed with Conchita but she always eludes him.

Tropes in That Obscure Object of Desire include:

  • Aside Glance: Mathieu casts an irritated look at the camera following his first, failed attempt to seduce Conchita.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: For Conchita as opposed to Mathieu's obsolete bourgeois morality which might be immoral in places but is still pretty straight. Conchita is all over the place with her morality.
  • Chastity Couple:
    • Mathieu would not be like that with Conchita but she forces him to.
    • Same for Conchita and the young man with whom she was humiliating Mathieu.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In the beginning Mathieu pours the bucketful of water on the head of Conchita. In the end she pours a bucketful of water on him in retaliation.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Mathieu's government friend tries to do Mathieu a favor by having Conchita and her mother deported to Spain.
  • Creator Cameo: Luis Buñuel is the guy killed by the first terrorist bomb.
  • Death Glare: Mathieu gives one to Conchita when she comes to his house after she had humiliated him the night before. Soon after he beats her up.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: For the dwarf who is somewhat of a psychoanalyst.
  • Dull Surprise: That's how Conchita I played by Carole Bouquet often reacts to things.
  • Elite Man–Courtesan Romance: This trope is present despite Conchita never being engaged as a hooker onscreen. She in any case dances completely naked in front of a bunch of Japanese tourists.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Conchita humiliates Mathieu at her new house. The next morning, she comes at Mathieu's house when he is having breakfast. She defiantly takes his cup of coffee and drinks it.
  • For the Evulz:
    • That's why the terrorist groups appear to wage their campaign of terror.
    • Also that's probably why Conchita always rejects Mathieu though she still might have other reasons, like age difference.
  • Framing Device: During most of the film, Mathieu is sitting in the train and he tells the other passengers the story of his relationship with Conchita, which is showed in Flashbacks.
  • Gold Digger: At some point, Conchita tells Mathieu that she does not like him and she only manipulated him to get money. Whether this is true or false is left ambiguous.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Conchita once recites the original text of the Spanish ditty to Mathieu which he does not understand at all only to promptly translate it.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Mathieu and Conchita do in the very end.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Mathieu boarding the train then pouring the bucket of water out of the train window on Conchita who moves along the platform ready to board the same train too. He then relates his shocked fellow travelers what made him do this to a girl.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Conchita applies it many times to avoid having sex with Mathieu. For example, she says once as he is trying to have sex with her that in fact it is she who loves him, that's why she does not want sex as her feelings are pure, while Mathieu is only interested in sex with her but does not know true love. Considering that Conchita should be 30-40 years younger than Mathieu...
  • Japanese Tourist: A bunch of them are watching Conchita dancing naked.
  • Latin Lover: The guy with whom Conchita seems to cheat on Mathieu.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Not the strongest case of this trope however it is played with to an extent. Buñuel the classic of surrealism places among the passengers in the same compartment with Mathieu a dwarf to make things look a bit more off.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Deconstructed and given the Anthropomorphic Representation of two Conchitas.
  • May–December Romance: An older man, Mathieu, falls in love with Conchita, who pretends to be 18. Conchita sometimes pretends to love him too, but it is unclear if this is true or not.
  • Meal Ticket: Mathieu is very rich, while Conchita is very poor. Mathieu falls for Conchita. He gives her a lot of money and he even buys her a house in Spain.
  • Mind Screw: One Conchita leaves the room and several seconds later the other comes back.
  • One-Man Army: Played mostly for the black comedy. The aged Mathieu suddenly becomes the one when he sees that in a private room Conchita II dances totally naked in front of a bunch of the archetypical Japanese tourists. He goes berserk and pushes a dozen of them away at once. They all obey him and indeed leave the room.
  • Parental Abandonment: Conchita does not have a father. She might consider Mathieu somewhat of a father figure. Her mother is not exactly helpful to her as well.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Mathieu pours the bucket of water out of the train window on the head of Conchita. Later she comes with the bucket of water to his compartment and pours it over his head.
  • Punny Title: At least in English, the pronoun and the phrasing "that obscure object of desire" can be referring to how desire itself is something obscure, or that the person being desired is obscure.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Conchita gives a vicious speech to Mathieu, telling him that she always found him disgusting and the was only manipulating him for money.
  • Running Gag: The news reports about the actions of the terrorist groups with hilarious names.
  • Servile Snarker: The manservant of Mathieu is quite often that. His irony appears to be aimed at both Mathieu an Conchita.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Conchita and Mathieu are playing their weird mind games yet again (she begged for his forgiveness and proclaimed her love, only to angrily brush his hand away in the street) when a terrorist bomb blows up, killing them both and ending the movie.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Played with for Mathieu who might be ther one but his suits appear quite old-fashioned.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The dwarf with pipe might be an allusion to Freud.
    • Mathieu's manservant quotes to him Friedrich Nietzsche: "When you go to a woman, take the whip along" referring to the way he should treat Conchita.
  • Silly Reason for War: GAREJ (groupe armé révolutionnaire de l'enfant Jésus - the Armed Revolutionary Group of the Baby Jesus) don't seem to have any coherent ideas to fight for.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Poor Mathieu always loses because with his old chivalry he is actually hopilessly idealistic as compared to Conchita.
  • Spicy Latina: Conchita II played by Molina.
  • Straight Gay: The friend of Conchita with whom she appears to cheat Mathieu might or might not be that.
  • Surrealism: Nobody seems to notice that Cochita has two completely different appearances (she is played by two different actresses).
  • The Tease: Conchita will dance in front of Mathieu, she'll sit on his lap and kiss him, she'll explicitly agree to be his mistress, she'll let him feel up her breasts, she'll crawl into bed with him, but she will not, repeat not let him have sex with her.
  • Technical Virgin: Mathieu once offers Conchita remain the one implying that there are other ways to cater to man's needs. Conchita is indignant.
  • Unstoppable Rage: For Mathieu when he notices that a few Japanese Tourists are watching Conchita II dance naked.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A terrorist stops a car of Mathieu lying down on the road. As the car stops he robs Mathieu.
  • Western Terrorists: Several organisations are waging a war both against the established order and against one another.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Mathieu hits Conchita after numerous humiliations.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: Conchita gets a job dancing naked for tourists.

Alternative Title(s): Ese Oscuro Objeto Del Deseo, Cet Obscur Objet Du Desir