Jean-Paul Belmondo dons clerical robes and delivers a subtly sensual performance for the hot-under-the-collar Léon Morin, Priest, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. The French superstar plays a devoted man of the cloth who is the crush object of all the women of a small village in Nazi-occupied France. He finds himself most drawn to a sexually frustrated widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a borderline heretic whose relationship with her confessor is a confrontation with both God and her own repressed desire. A triumph of mood, setting, and innuendo, Léon Morin, Priest is an irreverent pleasure from one of French cinema’s towering virtuosos. –The Criterion Collection
Jean-Pierre Melville (born Jean-Pierre Grumbach) was an amateur filmmaker as a teenager who, after the start of World War II, began making his own independent short and feature films. He hit his stride in the ‘50s with his memorable adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s novel, Les Enfants Terribles, and, over the next 20 years, specialized in intelligent and exciting crime films, most notably Bob le Flambeur, Le Doulos (aka The Finger Man), Le Samouraï, Le Cercle Rouge, and Un Flic. Melville also acted in his own Deux Hommes Dans Manhattan, as well as Cocteau’s Orphee, Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle (aka Breathless), and Claude Chabrol’s Landru (aka Bluebeard). He died in 1973.
(From http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=2:102465 )
Watching the film again nearly 8 months later, it's interesting to see this time how JPM creates a female gaze in order not to subvert the typical male gaze but to highlight the subjectivity of Barny. The fact that at the end Morin's autonomy stays in tact and his thoughts is more ambiguous than in the novel I think is what allows for the film to ultimately illustrates a male dominance typical in Melville's films.
Similar in tone to Bresson's Diary Of A Country Priest, this film can be described as an intellectual romance between a priest and a widow during the Nazi Occupation of a French village. A year after his breakthrough role as a petty criminal in Godard's Breathless, Belmondo was a brave choice for the lead but his charismatic performance helps this sharp and witty film to become one of Melville's major achievements...
Uma jovem moça, atéia, militante do partido comunista e marxista típica, entrando numa igreja para provocar um padre e disparar, no confessionário, a famosa frase “A religião é o ópio do povo” soa… read review