Bresson observes his Parisian student protagonist in numb recoil from a culture, almost a species, compromised beyond recall. As so often in Bresson, the process of detachment ends in deliberately sought death. Here Charles' proxy suicide stands, as Jan Dawson has perceptively noted, both as an affirmation of a purity no longer possible within society, and 'as a portent of the millions of deaths, not self-willed, which must inevitably follow', given the ruthless course of society's crimes. Charles and the two women in his life are offered less as convincing portrayals of life on the student fringe than as indices of a particular state of consciousness. Beside the toughness of Pickpocket, the depth of feeling of Une Femme Douce, the rigour of Lancelot du Lac, The Devil, Probably has a certain opaque quality. Its case is presented rather than argued: one buys its cosmic bleakness or one doesn't, but there is no doubt about the conviction with which it is put.
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