L’argent Screen 14 articles

L’argent

1983

L’argent Poster
  • L'Argent is, if anything, his fastest and most vigorous film... Since Bresson seems to be getting younger with every film, we should take our cue from him and try to dispense with the automatic genuflection that usually passes for Bresson criticism. L'Argent is the cleanest and most expressive film to come down the pike in quite a while, but it's also a weird and possibly off-putting little item that needs to be approached with caution.

  • Bresson's Yvon clearly stands on the edge of the abyss in that there is no other human being in whom he can see his own moral reflection. No other Bresson character, not even any of his suicides, has ever been left quite so abjectly alone. That a filmmaker can lift us to these levels of contemplation and speculation is proof enough of that filmmaker's greatness.

  • Bresson regards humanity with the ferocious passivity of a stone lion on some abandoned antique isle. At 76 he has made his most serene and terrifying film to date, one that strikes at its target like a bolt of judgment flung from an Olympus on Mars.

  • Robert Bresson creates a harrowing, caustic and socially relevant indictment of materialism and amorality in his final masterpiece, L'Argent. The protagonist,.. Inevitably, the pursuit of money serves as a symbolic means for the destruction of the soul. As the counterfeit note serves as an imitation of money, so too does money, in turn, represent an artificiality - a false soul.

  • The final sequence of "L'Argent," which finds the hero killing the one character, a saintly older woman (Sylvie van den Elsen), who has been kind to him, is a dense arrangement of ambiguous images that leaves us wondering whether Yvan is God's instrument or God's scapegoat. Like most great poets, Bresson refuses clarity; it is the complexity and ambivalence of his work that give it lasting fascination.

  • Bresson's final film—made when he was 81—is a harrowing scour of ideological cinema, based on a sermonic Tolstoy story about greed but turned by Bresson into a pantomime stations of the cross, so completely focused on sensuous minutiae, moral interrogation, and the fastidious lasering away of movie bullshit (like acting and action) that it comes as close as any movie has to 15th-century Christian icons.

  • Bresson’s oblique framing and extremely delicate editing become such a vivid example of “pure cinema” that we half expect the gathered onlookers of the film’s final “open-ended” shot are paying respect to the aesthetic beauty of Yvon’s crime as they are rubbernecking a police arrest. Ultimately, L’Argent manages to convey coherence between rigid moral dogma and sympathetic multiplicity. It’s mind-blowing.

  • “Economy” is the buzzword for Bresson’s style as a whole, in financial as well as aesthetic terms, and in his final film, the director pares his style down to its barest elements... Human action is chaotic and its whims arbitrary. Patience, restraint, and quiet attention to all things—these are the attributes that Bresson’s films consistently espouse to the very close of his last grim and exasperated film.

  • At once a thoroughly depressing and exhilarating affair, Robert Bresson's L'ARGENT tracks a counterfeit bill through wretched hands.

  • The film is non-stop movement; it starts with the handing off of a counterfeit 500-franc note and then rigorously tracks its repercussions, ending with one of the most unsettling murder scenes in film history. Like Bresson’s earlier masterpiece Au Hasard Balthazar, it’s one of those movies that seems to contain a complete vision of the world, informed by a fully formed sense of what filmmaking can and should do.

  • The keen delight Bresson takes in showing a place before and after human use is enough to reveal to us the importance of the former and the insignificance of the latter in the eyes of this director.

  • Bresson captures the moral weight of tiny gestures in brisk, precise images, and conveys the cosmic evil of daily life through one of the all-time great soundtracks, full of the rustle of bills and the clink of change, the click of a cash register and the snap of locks. These noises make the exchange of labor and goods for money play like original sin itself.

  • Finality itself is ultimately L’Argent‘s subject, the resting place of a lifelong search for truth in moving images. This is as true and purposeful as cinematography can be. This is Bresson’s goodbye fifteen years before his death. He’d said all he needed to. He’d brought film to a place from which it could thankfully never return.

  • The ominous “agent” at work here is money: the workings of an entire capitalist system boiled down to the movement of a forged note and the unstoppable catastrophe that it triggers. As money travels, it dehumanizes everyone it touches, no matter their class or religious or ideological beliefs. What, in other hands, could be played as the premise for a screwball comedy (the phony dollar bill that caused such riotous havoc in a small-town community!) is treated by Bresson as the darkest tragedy.

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