XL Popcorn – Journal Of A Country Priest

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 689/1007Title: Journal d’un curé de campagne (Journal Of A Country Priest)
Director: Robert Bresson
Year: 1951
Country: France

A few years ago I saw L’argent where I got a bit annoyed at the pretence of someone committing a bank robbery out of desperation of being out of work for a week. I thought it felt a bit of a stretch and didn’t allow me to feel fully invested in the characters. This is not something that I can say for Journal Of A Country Priest. 

For one thing, this film has an incredibly impressive debut performance by Claude Laydu as the titular country priest. In fact, this film does remarkable work from a group of mostly unknowns – but this completely belongs to Laydu. His character of the idealistic and particular priest who is rejected by his parish is… remarkably tragic.

Seriously, this film is just this slow burn of sadness as you watch this young nameless priest being ostracised and basically destroyed. I mean, one of the first things you learn about him is about his poor constitution (i.e. his stomach only being able to take dry bread) and this becomes a ticking time bomb.

The big thing that Bresson and Laydu are able to do with Journal Of A Country Priest is make you feel. So many of the priest’s interactions with his parishioners just make you feel so incredibly angry (especially Chantal… seriously she can rot for everything that she did) and it feels like none of this was warranted. Sure, he’s pernickety and very by the book – but he’s a priest after all.

I am getting so close to 700 films that I can almost taste it, especially since I am currently making my way through Dekalog as part of the 1001 TV Shows list. More on that soon, I guess, but I suppose it’ll be worth my picking out a pretty big film for this next landmark and we’ll see what the other films that’ll make up this mini-countdown.

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