Une femme douce [1969]

21Mar12 – 7 – Une femme douce (Robert Bresson: 1969)

UNE FEMME DOUCE (“A Gentle Woman”, 1969) opens with the suicide of a young woman and the film consists largely of flashbacks as her husband recounts the story of their relationship to his maid (who surely must already know or have guessed at most of what he tells her). In searching for clues to explain his wife’s death to himself he again and again lays them out clearly but without recognizing them as such himself. There are lots of small bits that Bresson gets absolutely right. She’s a poor student who loves literature, art, music, nature whereas he’s a materialistic yahoo (he owns a pawnshop and, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, he knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing). His attempts to talk to her about literature and theater and art fall flat because he’s regurgitating something he’s picked up from the equivalent of Cliff’s Notes or a bluffer’s guide. (The “Hamlet” he takes her to is atrociously performed but he appears to be oblivious.)

The movie is a lot less austere than most of Bresson’s work; I suspect that may be because this was Bresson’s first color film and he doesn’t seem to have mastered color yet. All in all it’s a really good but not great movie. And Pierre Clémenti (the john with the metal teeth in BELLE DE JOUR) shows up uncredited as a prince in the costume drama movie within the movie! 7/10. [3/21/12]

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One comment

  1. […] In fact, Lancelot du Lac‘s jousting tournament joins Dominique Sanda’s suicide in Une femme douce and the bank robbery and high speed chase and the multiple murders by ax in L’argent as one […]

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