Séverine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve) is a young, breathtakingly beautiful Paris housewife who has masochistic daydream fantasies about elaborate floggings and bondage.
She is married to a doctor (Jean Sorel) and loves him, but cannot share physical intimacy with him.
A male friend mentions a high-class brothel run by Madame Anaïs (Geneviève Page) to Séverine, and soon she secretly tries to work there during the afternoon.
Séverine will only work up until five o’clock each day, returning to her blissfully unaware husband in the evening, hence she is given the pseudonym ‘Belle de Jour’.
As the film progresses Séverine becomes entangled with a young gangster who offers her the thrills and excitement contained in her fantasies. The situation becomes more complicated when Séverine decides to leave the brothel.
Jealous of her lover he tracks her down to her address where he threatens to tell of her hidden identity but Séverine manages to convince him to leave.
Pulling out a gun, he waits outside for her husband to return home and shoots him three times before escaping and eventually getting caught by the police.
Séverine’s husband survives the event but is left in a coma.
The film ends with Séverine escaping into fantasy once more. This time, however, there are no sexual undertones. Her husband is healthy again and they kiss before looking out the window on to the opening scene of the film.
Séverine Serizy/”Belle de Jour”