In Bresson terms, an irredeemable failure: a complete rebuttal of his ascetic principles. When judged on its own terms, however, entirely adequate. Works well as a melodrama, due in large part to the cathartic final scene, which transcends the trite drama of the preceding acts. There are traces of greatness here, so on those grounds alone, this deserves at least one viewing.
Derrière ses allures de drame bourgeois, qui évoque dans une langue qu'on ne trouve plus un monde qui n'existe plus, on sent déjà Bresson à la recherche de son style si unique. De la tessiture de la langue, à la préciosité de la construction des plans, Bresson possède déjà son art. Il lui reste à abandonner les acteurs professionnels - sublime Maria Casares ! - et à quitter les richesses du monde.
Early Bresson! Though with a script by Jean Cocteau, it feels less like an austere Bresson masterwork and more like a lost Cocteau film: an expressive symbolic clash of fairy tale logic and modernity, with a vibe of fantasy (but not anything outright fantastical). Maria Casares is like an evil Cupid, orchestrating love and using it to hurt people. Even so, does anyone have a time machine and her phone number?
i would have never guessed this was directed by bresson, quite a fun to see how he changed since his early films. maria casares is a real star though and her sparkling tears (plus beautiful blurry and smogy black and white cinematography) add some considerable value to the film. i also got this weird feeling that you see here some lost reality, some quality or colour which doesn't exist anymore.
Assign a higher value to Cocteau dialogues is the same as considering that the narrative is better than the director's idiosyncratic look, which if it wasn't Bresson could be more interesting than actually is. A fictional overload, not always the most subtle one, is rescued at the end by a sublime ascencional shot, literally: it is from God's point of view that the redemption of love becomes Grace.
Bresson, with Cocteau's elegant screenplay, directs this melodrama with a sure-hand. Caseres hits all the right notes and Labourdette does fine work as well. The most scene that sticks is when Jean tries to escape from the chapel parking lot with Helene standing in the way.