Robert Sussfeld

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Diary Of A Country Priest Review


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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.

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