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Critic Melissa Anderson has observed that, for Deneuve, this ultimate mystery became a calling card and the basis of the rest of her filmic output: “Belle de Jour, more than any other film from the first decade of her career, defined what would become one of the actress’s most notorious personae: the exquisite blank slate lost in her own masochistic fantasies and onto whom all sorts of perversions could be projected.” In Chantal Akerman’s magnificent exploration of one woman’s need to contain her emotions in a fortress of control, she gives us a female protagonist who is a single mother, devoted housewife and afternoon prostitute.

Steadfastly refusing to reduce Jeanne to an object that is the product of a seedy profession, Akerman lingers not on her afternoon visits with her male clients but instead gives meticulous detail to the time it takes for the dressing, the cooking and the cleaning that make up Jeanne’s day.

In her essay to mark the Criterion DVD release of the film in 2005, critic Molly Haskell posits À nos amours as settling comfortably into a collection of iconic films exploring “the teenage girl on the cusp of sexual awakening”: Part child, part femme fatale, innocent and dangerous in equal proportions, these schoolgirl seductresses, born to blossom under the eye of the camera, have exerted a fatal fascination for Pygmalion auteurs who seek to capture and unveil this drama of unfolding.Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent masterpiece focuses not on the unsteady steps into womanhood, but on the last moments of our 19-year-old heroine’s brief life.Here is a girl who eschews the pressures of gender conformity, refusing to wear women’s clothes and vowing her faith and obedience to no earthly man – only to God – and is punished severely.Being unable to have a healthy sexual relationship within her marriage, she indulges in perverse fantasies of rape and sexual domination, eventually attempting to realise them by becoming a madame at a high-class brothel.Luis Buñuel’s exploration of Séverine’s sexuality is played out with characteristic surrealist flourish, and her true motivations remain always obscured.