Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Gentle Woman (1969)

A Gentle Woman / Une femme douce (1969)

Genre: Drama
Director: Robert Bresson
Starring: Dominique Sanda, Guy Frangin, Jeanne Lobre
Duration: 88 min.
Rating: 7.8/10

A heartbreaking tale of love's failure to unite two people. When the young wife of a pawnbroker suddenly and inexplicably commits suicide, her distraught husband tries to understand what could have led to such a desperate act.


A Gentle Woman directed by Robert Bresson, is the first of his two adaptations of Fyodor Dostoevsky's works, and is also his first color film.  It is a relationship drama told elliptically, starting with a woman's suicide, and recounted by her grieving husband.

Once again Bresson coaxes an exceptional performance from a non-professional, with Dominique Sanda's portrayal of the troubled wife.  A model with no previous acting experience, she was cast sight unseen, over the phone, and a rarity for one of Bresson's models, she would go on to have a successful acting career.

The film comes across as an honest and realistic story of a relationship gone wrong and its subdued mood is a stark change of pace from the intensity of most of his other work.  It also features a return to the usage of narration that he used to great effect in earlier films.  Unfortunately, this is currently only available on an out of print VHS.  Hopefully Criterion or someone else gives this the digital restoration it deserves soon.              


Jack L said...

I had no idea Bresson had adapted some of Dostoevsky's works, he's one of my favourite authors.
I'll see if I can get this one, hopefully I'll be able to find a watchable copy.

nice review!

Beasts in Human Skin said...

wow. It sounds like a rather bleak film but one I should check out. I think it would be a nice change for me.

Drackar said...

...Sounds rather depressing.

Lesya said...

Looks interesting even though I rarely got interested in foreign films. Thanks for the review.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Let me know if you can't and I'll point you in the right direction.

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