Synopsis by Judd Blaise
An austere look at the experiences of a young priest in a small French parish, Robert Bresson's masterly Le Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest) presents a powerful, complex exploration of faith underneath a deceptively simple exterior. Drawn from a novel by Georges Bernanos, the film centers on the priest of Ambricourt (Claude Laydu), a withdrawn, devout young man whose social awkwardness leaves him isolated from the community he is meant to serve. Further problems derive from the priest's ill health, which limits him to a diet of bread and wine and hinders his ability to perform his duties. Growing sicker and increasingly uncertain about his purpose in life, the priest undergoes a crisis of faith that threatens to drive him away from his village and from God. Bresson presents his spiritual tale in a minimalist, unadorned style, relying on a rigorous series of stripped-down shots and utilizing non-actors in many of the supporting roles. The approach may initially seem distancing or ponderous to a contemporary audience, but the cumulative impact of the brilliant visuals and Laydu's powerful, restrained performance is unquestionable. Almost universally acclaimed, this searching drama is generally considered one of Bresson's finest works and a crucial classic of world cinema.
priest, alienation, altruism, hostility, indifference, parish, self-sacrifice, terminal-illness
High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance