Au Hasard Balthazar ★★

Robert Bresson has an insane 7 films on the Sight and Sound list.

Now, I may or may not possess the Malick gene, the jury is still out, but having watched two Bressons now (this and Pickpocket) I'm almost certain I do not possess a Bresson gene.

Maybe...completely devoid of the Bresson gene.

This is, without a doubt, the main director that is so critically praised and universally loved and I cannot, for the life of me, understand why. To put it bluntly - these two films are shit. I know I'll catch some flack for that statement, but I stand by it wholeheartedly...for now. Maybe, down the road I'll come to see Au Hasard Balthazar in a new light. I'll continue watching Bresson's films just to see if I can find one that I like or appreciate.

You can see where Malick gets his structuring from since Bresson incorporates the same small scenes and then fade-cuts to other small scenes. I.E. - Marie walks into the room and says Balthazar - fade-cut - someone opening a drawer - fade-cut - donkey eyes - fade-cut - Gerard chases Marie around donkey, Marie tries (???) to run away and falls down (I guess she never ran before), calls it quits and falls in love (I guess) with Gerard - fade-cut - donkey eyes.

The main problem I have with Bresson is his bullshit acting method that uses in his films. Ebert says in his Great Movies piece:

Bresson's most intriguing limitation is to forbid his actors to act. He was known to shoot the same shot 10, 20, even 50 times, until all "acting" was drained from it, and the actors were simply performing the physical actions and speaking the words. There was no room in his cinema for De Niro or Penn. It might seem that the result would be a movie filled with zombies, but quite the contrary: By simplifying performance to the action and the word without permitting inflection or style, Bresson achieves a kind of purity that makes his movies remarkably emotional.

I strongly disagree. His films are full of zombies or, rather, actors that seem to have been abused for weeks and then forced to act in a film. Stare at your feet, look up and say lines with no emotion or life behind it equals remarkably emotional? No, no it doesn't. Creating a film where everyone is completely devoid of human emotions does not create emotion, not in my eyes anyway.

There is nothing here that I enjoyed - the acting, the cinematography, the framing, the pacing, the structure, the editing, the lighting - none of this is remarkable in my opinion.

Inevitably, I make the mistake of blaming myself for not liking Bresson's films. I must not get it or I must be missing something. I'm not doing that anymore and I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on Robert Bresson's career. I mean, I'm easily moved (emotionally speaking) and his films do nothing for me.

I'll keep watching, though, because critics and lists and such tell me he's wonderful.

Rakestraw liked these reviews