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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.Read more ›
The forgers are two rich kids, they pass the note on to two middle class shopkeepers, and the shopkeepers pass it on to a working class truck driver. The corruption begins at the top of the economic food chain but the rich never pay for their crimes and so they commit them without even a second thought. The middle class is not as well off and so they are even more moneygrubbing than the untouchable and insulated wealthy and knowingly pass the counterfeit note on to an unsuspecting working class truck driver and then later lie about it in court. Its the working classes that pay for everyones crimes. Bresson is brilliant at keeping things simple. Many of his films are based on short literary works and so his films have an economy to them that is almost breathtaking. In the case of L'Argent Bresson takes a Tolstoy story and pares it down to the basics-- for Bresson the story is about the class struggle and how this system with its built-in hypocrisies and injustices dehumanizes and corrupts us all. The rich are seen to be callous and arrogant because untouchable, the middle class are seen to be petty and selfish, and the working class is seen to be easily victimized--merely fodder for those who happen to be higher on the economic bracket. Bresson does not fool around with character development or atmosphere, he stays focused on the essentails and thus the distilled quality of his films.Read more ›
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.
Everyone who has ever watched a Bresson film has had the task of coming to terms, one way or another, with a consistent and singular element of his style: many of the shots are seemingly off-center, the camera is aimed in a way that prevents the viewer from being able to fully see what the viewer imagines the whole scene might be. The spotaneous question that arises in the viewer confronted with these shots is, Why? This is uncomfortable, why is Bresson doing this? And because the answer to this question may not be obvious and because no one else seems to ask why, the viewer may decide that Bresson is merely attempting to be different for its own sake. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. This aspect of his style is essential to the meaning of Bresson's films. As you watch this film, L'Argent (and I sincerely hope that you do watch it), simply observe what the actual effect on yourself is of these odd shots. I will tell you what effect they had on me. They were disruptive. Of what? Disruptive of my being able to become deeply immersed in the flow of images, as I ordinarily would while watching a film, so that they could carry me into an artificial, fictional world where the film's story takes place, where I am manipulated by the images more and more into a fantasy condition. In other words, ordinary film watching.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I do not have a favorite Bresson film, but it was while watching this film, L'Argent, that I fully understood why I feel that Bresson is the greatest, the most original and... Read morePublished on April 5 2002 by Darkladder
Mistaking the trees for the wood, I forgot to mention the most important aspect of Bresson's last masterpiece, 'L'Argent': one of the greatest shots in all cinema. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2001 by darragh o'donoghue
There is so much baggage brought by critics to the work of Robert Bresson - his films are dramatisations of severe Catholic doctrines; his style is forbiddingly austere etc. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2001 by darragh o'donoghue
This was, as it turned out, Robert Bresson's final film - he died last year, having spent the better part of the century making only fourteen feature films, most of which are truly... Read morePublished on July 14 2000
Paul Hunter's review says just about everything that I could about this film. It is truly an outstanding and thought provoking work. Read morePublished on March 11 2000
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