While "L'argent" and a number of Bresson's other films dance around the issue of the void and the consequent immunity of the lucid individual to any form of hope, "Le Diable" confronts it head on.
Charles, an apathetic, negative, yet somehow compelling young man walks around Paris with his 'friends' (he has no real contact with them) and searches, a bit lazily, for a meaning to live in a society which offers none. Horrific shots of environmental destruction and human deformities resulting from pollution give an added impact to the film.
In the end, however, Bresson's focus is Charles--his miserable and joyless hedonism, his situationisteque responses to the outside world's demand for him to 'act', and his seemingly unabating feelings of alienation and despair. The dry, realist tone of the film is Bresson's abrasive answer to our demand for drama in the questions of metaphysics Charles' unspeakingly proposes in his behavior. Bresson knows that in the actual world no one would care or give the time of day to a young man of Charles' age with these kind of questions. The paradox of the film is that Charles is an unsympathetic character in terms of his relations to others. And yet we have nothing but the utmost sympathy for his nihilistic (or not?) plight. The attractive leading actor is literally able to enact man's tenuous place in the universe with a few downward glances. Of course, all attempts to save Charles are in vain; he is looking for truth, which is nowhere to be found. He toys with suicide and in the end opts for a mercy killing via a junkie friend he has a strange empathy for. While one would doubt that anyone cares enough anymore to sacrifice their own skin for the sake of a universal truth, it is both numbingly depressing and exhilarating to see on film. Charles takes on the character (keep in mind, this is *cinema*) of a kind of saint of revolt through his last act of despair. I would say that while this film would be nothing for most people, it would be everything for a few.