A Man Escaped ★★★★½

A three course pairing:

1) ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS. I haven't watched Bresson's prison break film for 22 years - it was an early excursion into classic foreign cinema, my first Bresson, and I fell *hard* for it and him - and had entirely forgotten it was specifically about a Nazi prison in France. But the meticulous detail of the breakout - carving at the door, the bedding wire, and so on - that stuck with me. I love process in film, and although it has very little in common with Bresson, ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS is a film showing one man's MacGyver-esque facility with creating tools with limited resources, and I kept flashing to it during this screening.

2) MY WAY HOME. Miklos Jancso's b&w WWII prison movie is - as I recall it (it's been 10 years) - a stunning counterpoint, full of fluid and sensuous moving grace. To be fair, there are longer stretches outside of prison, but also: Bresson. Depending on your mood - and mine flitted back and forth a few times during this viewing - his staging can seem impoverished or radiantly simple. At any rate, I'd quite happily sit through a double feature of both films and let them bounce off each other.

3) THE SON. The Dardennes brothers are often mooted as the spiritual successors of Bresson, probably inordinately so because their ROSETTA and Bresson's MOUCHETTE share a similar trajectory. But despite some superficial similarities, I think THE SON illuminates a major difference, as it's all about staging a moral dilemma - to kill or not to kill - and it does so with ratcheting emotional precision. Here, the same question arises in a late-breaking turn, and perhaps because of Bresson's deliberately flat direction of his models, the tension of this encroaching decision is never palpably felt. To be fair, it is secondary to the principal driver of the film, but it is also indicative of a minor Bressonian flaw that slightly pulls this back from its place as what I thought was a top 50 all-time film to a merely great one.