The Priest and the Girl (1965)

8 03 2008

Despite being a decent enough film, this was sort of a disappointment. For whatever reason, it looked even better than São Paulo S/A but it actually ended up feeling sort of empty. Again, this is a pretty good film but in terms of establishing it’s characters and, for lack of a better term, amounting to anything emotionally, it doesn’t really do much. From a technical standpoint, it’s a bit more firm but still nothing completely original. It has it’s moments, definitely, and I actually enjoyed it a great deal more than this review implies but still, I was expecting something monumentally great.

A young priest moves in to a small town to take the place of an elder priest following his inevitable death. The town has become quite attached to the previous priest and the change is quite unwelcomed. Eventually, the priest begins to understand the awkwardness that surrounds the villagers. An old man hopes to marry his younger adoptive daughter, but seemingly everyone has fallen for the girl and they all have their own stories. Confused and tired of being manipulated, the priest and the girl decide to run off together but even alone, they have trouble articulating their feelings.

In all honesty, the first is basically just a reworking of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, which is fine by me. Halfway in, the priest and the girl run away and the film takes a detour through Antonioni and/or Fires on the Plain territory. The problem is, this all just feels like stylization. When the two lovers are alone, they act odd, which does make sense on paper. Human relationships are always confusing in one way or another but in this case, they both come off as slightly stupid. I guess the characterization is too lazy to create any sort of interest in these people. They ultimately become nothing more than part of the frame, but again, that’s sort of okay with me considering how the film adds a lot of nice poetic touches. Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on this film, but I really did like it overall but it’s lack of character depth is far too noticeable when juxtaposed with all the other stuff I tend to watch. Visually speaking, it couldn’t be better.

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