Au hasard Balthazar
Written and directed by Robert Bresson
Same film maker who did A Man Escaped which I watched a bit over a year previously. One of the greats in the ‘pretentious boring French film’ stakes (which I say with love, because French films are generally, love.) Having said that though, I’m not sure this is going to be one of my favourite French films. Marie and Balthasar are both mistreated and it’s meant to be a study of sainthood?
I guess the saints generally had pretty crap lives, didn’t they?
This film is basically Black Beauty if Black Beauty was a French donkey. So much pain and suffering and equating the struggles of an animal with the existential crisis of life.
It’s beautifully made, no question there. The photography is beautiful, the animal actors are astounding, the human actors are great too. The music, everything. It’s a lovely piece visually, but the story is pretty bleak. I had to watch this without Anna around and I’m glad I did as there’s quite a lot of animal suffering.
Does it make me love the people? I loved Balthasar because how could you not? Basically everyone else in the movie is horrible, selfish or actively abusive (especially bad boy Gerard, urgh.) Marie, yes. and Basically only Marie. Marie was such a sad, obedient character but there wasn’t much going on otherwise. Just winsome sadness.
Bechdel test: No, Marie and her mother talk, but her mother is not named and they only talk about Marie’s boyfriend and her father so. No.
Gerard: Lend him to us.
Marie’s mother: He’s worked enough. He’s old. He’s all I have.
Gerard: Just for a day.
Marie’s mother: Besides, he’s a saint.
State of Mind: I cannot recommend this film. It’s depressing and upsetting things happen to the donkey. I feel I’m not sufficiently educated in how this movie relates to religion and sainthood but I dunno, it just felt awful. I tried to explain about it to a couple of people after finishing it and apparently my description just makes it sound awful as well. Cannot recommend.