L'Argent ★½

Goddammit Bresson! You just got back in my good books with A Man Escaped, so I decided to trust you. “Maybe I was wrong” I thought to myself. “Maybe Mouchette was watched in the wrong mood, and it’s worth giving The Devil, Probably another chance due to that sweet title.” So I go ahead with this, all high on Bresson, having finally won me over.

So much for that.

I get it - money is evil! Look what it makes people do! Capitalism has consumed us etc. But this film is exactly why Bresson often rubs me the wrong way. The way he directs his ‘actors’ completely drains the life out of them, until they’re zombies. I understand that’s what he’s going for, but it completely kills his films for me. Everyone here is emotionless puppets that Bresson can manipulate into arguing his point. He’s not wrong, it’s just that he expresses it in the most tedious way, and even a relatively short film like this becomes an absolute chore. The ironic thing is this method of directing actors was exactly what made A Man Escaped so good. In that case, the emotionally drained performances worked perfectly since prison life had exhausted all personality from characters, practically dehumanising them, thus making Bresson’s methods a perfect fit. Here, no dice. Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two films since they’re not particularly similar (though this does have a few prison scenes) but it just highlights my problem with most of Bresson’s work. It’s like the equivalent of talking to a brick wall in the film world. I want to like his films, and I try to open up a dialogue, asking him to give me something to chew on. But all I get in response is unexpressive face after unexpressive face staring back at me.

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