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Léon Morin, Priest

Posted by martinteller on October 7, 2011

An atheist/communist widow in occupied France strikes up a relationship with a progressive priest, getting both more than she bargained for and not enough to satisfy her.  Melville brings a lot of interesting touches to this story, especially in his editing techniques.  The film flows casually, and yet few scenes last longer than about a minute and a half.  There’s very little narrative filler, cutting right to the heart of their theological discussions and Emmanuelle Riva’s internal struggles.  It’s an unusual movie with a lot going for it, including some engaging dialogues.  But I had difficulty connecting with the characters.  Barny is too malleable… perhaps it’s the time compression, but she seems to come to certain major decisions/revelations far too easily.  And while Belmondo is surprisingly not too distracting as a priest, Morin is too idealized.  Maybe Barny’s feelings wouldn’t be so strong if we were to see his flaws, but he always seems to have the exact right thing to do or say.  I suppose the larger issue could be that I don’t care much for religious subject matter, but this hasn’t stopped me from loving other films on the topic.  Nonetheless, I’m glad I watched this.  Rating: Good


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