Diary Of A Country Priest

"Good"

Diary Of A Country Priest Review


Ingmar Bergman didn't direct Diary of a Country Priest, but he may as well have. The bleakest of the bleak, this film follows the titular country priest (Claude Laydu) as he works in a remote French village spreading the Good Word to the locals. The problem is they pretty much want nothing to do with him. Shunned by the townspeople and fearful that he isn't doing God's work properly, the priest is also so sickly he can eat nothing but hard bread that has soaked in wine, and he has little to do but spend the days in his freezing cabin, alone. Such is the content of the priest's diary, though a few encounters with the living promise to stir up some excitement.

Our priest is not only wracked with physical illness, he worries endlessly about his acceptance in the village, about God, about everything. His brow is constantly furrowed, and for good reason -- the stand-offish treatment he receives is killing him, as director Robert Bresson presents a hopeless message that says all things will stay the same. One man can't change society, but society can certainly do a number on the man.

The film makes me think of the philosophical works of Kierkegaard, an existentialist who essentially said that no matter what we do, it isn't going to be good enough for God, but you'd better try your hardest to be a good person anyway, just try and ignore that gnawing in your stomach as you go about your business. Priest actually takes that notion to extremes: Our hero can't eat, he's so guilt-ridden over God.

There's alas no light at the end of the tunnel for our hero, though at least he does manage to get out of that wretched village. But Bresson isn't really trying to tell us we can escape the crush of society; he's just saying we can trade one form of hell for another. This kind of movie's been made before countless times (Barton Fink springs to mind, with the idea of hell on earth being taken to its literal extreme), and it's too bad that Bresson pads the middle with hair-tearing squabbles with the locals, none of whom manage to build a memorable character, and repetitive diary entries. Bresson is not terribly subtle about his message, either, but even if you dig the physical sickness as metaphor for spiritual sickness bit, you'll grok this fully within 10 minutes of the start of the film. The rest of the time we're just waiting for the priest to meet his end, one way or another.

The ubiquitous Peter Cowie offers a commentary on the film in its new Criterion DVD release.

Aka Journal d'un curé de campagne .



Diary Of A Country Priest

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Monday 5th April 1954

Box Office USA: $33.2k

Distributed by: Rialto Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Léon Carré,

Starring: as Priest of Ambricourt (Curé d'Ambricourt), Jean Riveyre as Count (Le Comte), Adrien Borel as Priest of Torcy (Curé de Torcy), Rachel Bérendt as Countess (La Comtesse), Nicole Maurey as Miss Louise, Nicole Ladmiral as Chantal, Martine Lemaire as Séraphita Dumontel, Antoine Balpêtré as Dr. Delbende (Docteur Delbende)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.