Criterion Sunday 183: Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945)

I don’t consider this typical Bresson, as it uses professional actors and it has a sort of Hollywood melodrama feel to it, although it has a dark edge of course. It’s about a woman who manipulates those around her to engineer their (social) destruction, and Maria Casarès is exactly the right person to have casted in such a role, given her admirable talents at looking mischievous. It all moves forward with admirable aplomb, and it has its lovely moments and some great high-contrast monochrome photography, admirable shadows falling across conniving faces, all that kind of thing. Its only real failing is that it’s not as great as Bresson later proved he could be as a director.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Robert Bresson; Writers Bresson and Jean Cocteau (based on the novel Jacques le fataliste by Denis Diderot); Cinematographer Philippe Agostini; Starring Maria Casarès, Élina Labourdette, Paul Bernard; Length 84 minutes.

Seen at Te Papa, Wellington, Saturday 16 June 2001 (also earlier on VHS in the university library, Wellington, June 1999, and most recently on DVD at a friend’s home, London, Sunday 3 December 2017).

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