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  • Wednesday, March 22

    3:10 PM (170 mins)

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Man-woman relationships -- France -- Drama, Suicide -- Psychological aspects -- Drama, Youth -- France -- Drama, Youth -- France -- Moral conditions -- Drama

The Devil, Probably

(Le diable probablement)

  • Lecture

Antoine Monnier, Tina Irissari, Henri de Maublanc, Laetitia Carcano,

Also screens (without lecture) in our Robert Bresson retrospective

This has been called Bresson’s most cynical film. It certainly offers his most fashionably cynical protagonist, Charles, a young Parisian whose suicidal despair is vaguely linked to, but not entirely explained by, all the ecological, political, and social disasters of the modern world circa 1977. This character makes an interestingly unsympathetic addition to Bresson’s gallery of self-sacrifices—his behavior toward his multiple lovers is far from saintly, and his aristocratic beauty can’t mitigate an infuriating, passive arrogance. But Charles’s life, which ends in the middle of an unexpressed thought (less sublime than he’d expected), takes on in retrospect the odd, compromised dignity of a thwarted spiritual search. It’s entirely possible to picture an alternate ending in which this dissatisfied youth becomes a Jesuit. The chic psychiatrist who tries to “cure” Charles’s indifference asks, “When it’s over, do you see yourself as a martyr?” The reply: “Only an amateur.”

Juliet Clark