In the 1930s, Parisian housemaid Celestine (Moreau) is hired to work in the provincial estate of elderly Monsieur Rabour, who she quickly learns is an avowed shoe fetishist. There are other oddities in the house as well: Rabour's daughter is more vested in her urns and art objects than the advances of her randy husband (Piccoli), who pursues every servant on the grounds, and both the gamekeeper and the driver appear to be coarse fascists. None of this fazes the cool Celestine; but after a shocking murder, she adopts a more cunning attitude.
Adapted first by Jean Renoir in 1946, Octave Mirbeau's scandalous novel provided excellent fodder for Buñuel's continuing exploration of social, sexual, and political perversions — this time, in fascist-era France. Moreau was never icier, nor more calculating, than in the role of Celestine, a self-pre-possessing woman every man wants to possess for himself. Lensed in shimmering black-and-white, "Chambermaid" is an alluring entry in the Buñuel canon.