“Ridicule is the one thing we must avoid at all costs.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
While I certainly can’t refute the deeply reverent relationship many viewers have with this film, I must admit that I found myself surprisingly unmoved by it. Bresson’s distinctive cinematic style — strategically designed to emulate a marriage of music and painting, with emotionless, non-acting “models” rather than actors inhabiting roles — is ultimately not for all tastes. While I admire his intentions, his approach doesn’t work for me on a basic empathetic level. I’m so distracted watching his “models” move self-consciously across the screen that I’m overly aware of their role as dramatic placeholders, to the detriment of my ability to relate to the film on any personal level. This is all the more of a shame given that Bresson’s visuals are consistently stunning; frame after frame is lovingly composed, and gorgeously shot by his D.P. (Ghislain Cloquet).
Call me a Bressonian grinch, but I’m only recommending this one as must-see for its undeniable cinematic stamp of approval by most critics. You’ll have to judge its ultimate merit for yourself. Instead, I’ll continue to rally for Diary of a Country Priest (1951) as the film for which Bresson’s unique approach is best suited.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)