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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. Buñuel was in his prime in the '70s (referring both to the decade and his age) and this film confirms that once more.

The movie is a Black Comedy Drama about the May–December Romance of a well-to-do older man, Mathieu, and the young and beautiful Conchita. She claims to be 18, though obviously not, but the strangest thing about her appearance is that she is, which some might for some time overlook, two women. 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.


The film was extremely successful with the critics both for its gimmick (two actresses playing one character) and for being a good film anyway.

Tropes in That Obscure Object of Desire

  • Betty and Veronica: Of the Madonna–Whore Complex style. Betty and Veronica are one character and two different actresses. Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina.
    • The French, icy Carole Bouquet is the blonde one, Betty. She is credited as Conchita I.
    • The Spanish, sultry Ángela Molina is the brunette one, Veronica. She is credited as Conchita II.
  • Black Comedy: Of the blackest kind possible.
  • 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.
  • Brick Joke: 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.
  • 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.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: A high-ranking official, the friend of Mathieu, who on his request expels the poor Conchita out of France to her native Spain on the ground of the irregularities with her papers. Of course Mathieu soon regrets it as he for some time loses Conchita.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: Conchita I. But not Conchita II.
  • Death Glare: Mathieu gives the one to Conchita when she comes to his house after she had humiliated him the night before. Soon he beats her up.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: No question in this film. They did not, meaning don Mathieu and Conchita.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: For the dwarf who is somewhat of a psychoanalist.
  • 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 the bunch of Japanses tourists.
  • 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.
  • 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 don 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 platorm ready to board the same train too. He then relates his shocked fellow travellers 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. Bunuel 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.
  • Mind Screw: One Conchita leaves the room and several second 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.
  • Only One Name: For everyone in this movie.
  • Parental Abandonment: Conchita does not have a father. She might consider don 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: Conchita gives once the destroying speech to don Mathieu, comparing him unfavourably to the younger man.
  • Romance: Between don Mathieu and Conchita. What a twisted one!
  • 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.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Played with for Mathieu who might be ther one but his suits appear quite old-fashioned.
  • Shout-Out: Dwarf with pipe might be an allusion to Freud.
    • Mathieu's manservant quotes to him Friedrich Nietzsche: "When you go to 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 vs. 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To both Viridiana and Tristana
  • Straight Gay: The friend of Conchita with whom she appears to cheat Mathieu might or might not be that.
  • 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: Poor don Mathieu does it afer numerous humiliations. Who would condemn him? No-one in the universe of this film.

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


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