A single 500 franc forged note changes hands as a schoolboy prank; and with remorseless logic, an innocent is led down the path to becoming an axe-murderer. Taken from a Tolstoy short story, this is a return to the extremes of crime and punishment that Bresson last used in Pickpocket; and as in that film, crime is a model of redemption and prison a metaphor for the soul. True to a taste for Catholic paradox, the murderer may or may not 'find' himself through his acts; the family is axed in the name of spiritual release; and most powerful of all, Evil is not demeaned by any vacuous sociological explanation. Filming with his usual tranquil, austere feeling for the miraculous, Bresson still manages to make most other film-makers appear hysterical over-reachers; at nearly 80, his power to renew our faith in cinema is as firm as one could wish for. Gold, pure.
Cast and crew
Sylvie van den Elsen