Une femme douce
Une femme douce is Robert Bresson’s adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s short story A Gentle Creature, chronicling the troubled and ill-fated relationship between a pawnbroker and a girl that frequents his shop. Bresson transposed the milieu of 19th-century Russia to Paris in the 1960s. “I could not see myself making a film with snow, troïkas, byzantine domes, fur coats and beards,” he explained. But he also changed the story’s core substance: “In Dostoyevsky, it’s the sense of responsibility, of the agonizing culpability of the husband who tries to justify himself. In my version, it’s doubt, the uncertainty of the husband in front of this mute body: ‘Has she loved me; has she deceived me?’ It’s this incommunicability.’”
“Bresson’s films are a unique example of construction. This is also closely linked to his philosophy. You would have noticed in his films that a door opens, a person comes out, enters one door, emerges from another, goes down from a third, and then goes out of the room, goes out of the house from a fourth, comes back again, opens a door, enters, opens a cupboard takes out something and puts it on the table. In other words, a person within the labyrinth of the world, in which we are all stranded. Someone – it could be anyone – breaks free, like this girl in Une femme douce. Freedom here means death. Death is essential, though not in all his films. Nonetheless, like the donkey in Au hasard Balthazar and the girl in Une femme douce, they achieve ‘grace’.” (MK)
New digital restoration by Éclair group.
French with English subtitles