Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

An austere, stripped-down film from the filmmaker widely regarded as the most austere in film history, Robert Bresson (this is the first film of his I've seen). Reaction? The minimalism is effective, as the absence of affect creates several scenes that are lyrical, poetic or startling in ways that regular film can't get at. (The one flash of nudity packs more punch than most scenes of a similar ilk could even dream of.) Too, the use of types rather than professional actors proves worthwhile -- like De Sica, Bresson apparently had an eye for unforgettable faces attached to people with just enough talent to not be distracting. However, I find the film a bit reductive, especially in terms of the film's main villain. I mean, I can see this is allegorical, but all the world's evil is contained within one surly dude? That's a bit much, no? My major complaint, though, is that despite the film's efforts, I didn't find myself much moved (aside from the final scene, which is some sort of masterpiece). But that's my problem, not the film's. So yeah... this Bresson guy's pretty good. Wonder what's next.

Grade: B


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