L'Argent Movie Review

The 1993 film Twenty Bucks tracked a $20 bill through the hands of a variety of travelers and a series of small adventures.

Robert Bresson's final film, L'Argent, follows a similar path, at least for a while. Only this time the bill is French, counterfeit, and destined to bring nothing good to those who encounter it.

For the first 20 minutes of the film, a counterfeit 500 franc note is passed around until it ends up in the hands of a soft-spoken, nearly dim-witted laborer, who spends it at a cafe. The fake is spotted, the cops are called, and he ends up losing his job over the transgression. The laborer, Yvon, turns to crime, and during a botched robbery someone gets killed. Yvon goes to prison this time, and while he's incarcerated his daughter dies (presumably because he wasn't there to get her the medical care she needed). Eventually, Yvon is released, but things don't go much better during his parole.

L'Argent is a small and silent film, Bresson's last best hope to show the world how the little guy ends up paying for the crimes of humanity at large. At the same time it isn't terribly insightful, relying on contrivance to drive the plot toward a truly unlikely series of events. While Bresson surely wanted to give the film more depth than simply telling us how bad it is to print funny money, the film never quite gets around to drawing a broader conclusion. The film is also woefully short on solutions -- and unlike some of, say, Catherine Breillat's better works, which have the same kind of inevitable horror, L'Argent isn't even frightening. It's cold and clinical, and more than a little depressing.


Comments

L'Argent Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 1983

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