Une Femme Douce (A Gentle Creature)

Based on a novella by Dostoevsky, Une Femme Douce (A Gentle Creature) is framed by a flashback, the oldest device in film narrative, but here used to novel effect by a New Cinema master. A gentle wife dies, a suicide. Her husband, an antique pawnbroker, sits by the bed on which her body lies and reconstructs the past, in an attempt to (re)trace the paths which led his wife to this end. His attempts are foiled. He never knows. Neither do we. Bresson narrates the story of their relationship with his usual austerity, and breathtaking economy of style. As the wife, Dominique Sanda displays a degree of sensuality that is both tantalizing, in that Bresson refuses to exploit it conventionally, and totally unexpected. Une Femme Douce is also unique as Bresson's first film in color, which is used subtly to stress texture rather than tone. As always with Bresson, the film is irresistibly moving in a way that is as hard to explain as it is to resist.

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