1952, TSPDT Rank #333
This hard-to-find film from the middle Mexican period of the great Luis Bunuel is a definite masterpiece. The original title El is pretty blunt, it's the masculine singular definite article in Spanish (translating to "Him" in English), but the English title "This Strange Passion" is also very fitting, maybe more so than the original. This is a film about a middle-aged man named Francisco, who falls in love with a younger woman he meets in church one day. Eventually his charm wins her over and they get married, only to have their marriage ravaged by his growing paranoia that every move she makes is a sign of infidelity. This is classic no-holds-barred Bunuel, a vicious satire of love, jealousy, and obsession. His sarcastic joke throughout the movie is that Francisco, a man of high standing, continues to be viewed as a very rational and respectable person, even in light of his obviously irrational behavior. Bunuel's trademark surrealism is sprinkled throughout the film, more and more heavily as Francisco descends further into madness. The climatic scene in the church is brilliant, and quite insane. El is just another bit of evidence to why Luis Bunuel is one of the few true cinematic masters. Genius.