- Language: French, Latin
- Subtitles: English
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B000929UQY
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,408 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
While I don't remember all the details (and there are many of them), the jist of the film has stayed with me. A level headed, blue collar man stops to get change from a store. He is working, driving his truck, doing nothing wrong. Unfortunately, he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He receives bills from the shop which are counterfeit. Two young men, pressed for cash, had been in earlier and managed to pass the fake bills off as real ones. The point of this scene is that there is no point; this commonplace man does something that all of us have done a million times, and not only is his life destroyed as a result, he plays a significant part in that subsequent destruction. The film could be seen either as a tragic series of events with no sense behind them (again, Bresson puts the stress on meaninglessness) or as the potential criminal hiding within us all.
Sitting at a restaurant, the man pays for a meal with the false money he has been given. The waiter calls him a thief, and the man naturally takes offense, shoving the waiter into a table. These scenes, in which the spirit of revolt overcomes the man's rationality, are shot in still (as on the cover of the video itself), and are intended to represent the pride of innocence when encountered with injustice.
From there, everything goes seriously downhill. In an ironic, terrible twist, the man ends up in prison with one of the young hoodlums who help put him there. Having lost his family, his job, his reputation and his freedom, a silent fury (which we do not see until the end) builds in the man until he becomes a complete outsider, committing an unspeakable act at the end and confessing to it.
The extraordinary aspect of this piece by Bresson is that one cannot help but be haunted by the very viable and real possibility of these events. The only unbelievable part is the man's willingness to snap to such a degree. The irretrievability of the man's innocence, his life, and his ultimate fate is even more agonizing: nothing he could do would return him to his ordinary life. Watching this film is like watching a lamb go to the slaughter, resurrect itself and slaughter everyone else.
The abstract mechnanized backdrop for the titles sequence is a money machine. As is so often the case, behind the deadpan performances of his nonactors (many of whom are superb in this movie), Bresson fetishizes on his subject unto hypnosis; in this film, notice how many times doors, small and large, are slamming, beginning with the automated one closing the first transaction, to the last image of a row of people gawking at the door. This film retains its searing impact through many viewings.