Melville's extraordinary excursion into Bressonian territory, set in a provincial town during the World War II German Occupation of France. With perfect formal control and an extreme emotional intensity, he forges links between the disparate themes of the Occupation, profane love, and spiritual quest. Superb performances from Belmondo as the priest with radical ideas and an eye for the women; and from Emmanuelle Riva as the young girl who, like her town, surrenders to an alien force - she is quite literally invaded by God. In exactly the same fashion as his priest, Melville uses the barest of material assets, but maximum emotional and metaphysical toughness, to inveigle the most sceptical of observers into acknowledging the operation of divine grace. With the Liberation comes a concomitant slackening of intensity; then detachment, loss, and the conclusion that even God has a sense of irony. Miraculous cinema, even for heretics. CPea.