5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
a distillation of everything essential
, 22 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Diary of a Country Priest [DVD]  (DVD)
Diary Of A Country Priest is one of Bresson's most powerful films. For me, the nameless priest is a beacon of sincerity and humility. He has the gentleness of the lamb (Zurbaran ... ), and much compassion. Bresson focuses only on what is essential in his dealings with others, and on his solitude in his first parish where nobody wants him. Everything is filtered through a fairly small number of characters, usually seen individually, and the community seems diffuse, with no hub or sense of mutual concern. His superior, the curé de Torcy, doesn't even live there, nor possibly does the doctor, Delbende. The main character's comings and goings, often covering the same ground on his way to the chateau, for instance, are set to a Brucknerian score that seems quite lavish in relation to the rest of the film, and to many of Bresson's other films, where music tends to be used sparingly. Here it carries the sense of the priest's inner self and gives it outward expression, a counterpoint to his diary entries which we both see and hear in his voice. All his exchanges with others tend to be quite terse. The one with the Countess has a rigour that is quite exhilarating, really - almost expansive within its strict terms - as it is not an easy spirituality that is being explored, and thus all phonyness is avoided. Rather, it speaks of an elevation of the soul through arduousness, triumphing even over his physical agony at the end, from which the camera discreetly turns away. Nevertheless, it is a very moving conclusion. The sobriety of the acting is striking, with Claude Laydu making an indelible impression as the hapless man of God, accepting the inevitable with altruism and selflessness.
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