Diary of a Country Priest ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

My protracted discovery that I don’t seem to care much for Robert Bresson continues...

Almost every outdoor shot in this is effortlessly lyrical and stunning, but the aesthetic pleasures and emotional resonance unfortunately end there for me. As in Pickpocket, I found myself feeling as if I was seeing the scenario — a youthful but sickly and alcoholic priest spends two hours in utter consternation about absolutely everything before abruptly dying of stomach cancer, whereupon Bresson presents us with the image of a cross — played out by a robot, in this case the rather attractive but puppet-like Claude Laydu. Yes yes, negative acting and all that, but all of the characters surrounding him, especially the younger women, do suggest varieties of inner life in which the lead character and Bresson himself seem defiantly disinterested. I’m not questioning for a moment how moving this can be for other people, and I can sense how easy it would be to read a lot of identification into it, but Bresson’s sensibility holds almost nothing that I find truly compelling at this stage in my life. And I admit to — again, as in Pickpocket — strongly disliking the protagonist, who seems ineffectual just for the sake of it, to the point it’s hard to imagine what identity or purpose he even conceives for himself. And the film’s structure of writing and voiceover followed by perfunctory, illustrative action just plays as totally dead for me. Oh well. You can’t love all the masterpieces, can you!?