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Robert Bresson always claimed his films are about hope and redemption, but so many end in death or suicide that it's a struggle to reconcile the statement with his films. His final film, based on Leo Tolstoy's story The Counterfeit Note, is no different. It's the harrowing tale of an innocent man, Yvon (Christian Patey), whose victimization at the hands of an arrogant upper-class delinquent and a greedy shop owner sends him on a downward spiral into a life of crime. The once-happy husband and father turns bitter, angry, self-pitying, and ultimately coldly brutal in the chilling conclusion. It's Bresson's most expansive film and biggest canvas, weaving the paths of numerous characters across Yvon's journey, but he edits with jackrabbit jumps, running headlong through the story with a painful feeling of inevitability. On its simplest level, Yvon's story is an elaborate chain of cause and effect, the ripples of a selfish act resulting in the fall of a proud man and the destruction of his soul, and Bresson presents every link in that chain with precise, cold clarity. There is little hope evidenced in L'Argent, but there is powerful sense of loss and sadness in this portrait of a society so obsessed with money that it loses its humanity.

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NYFV43694 L'argent VHS (1983/Robert Bresson) $19.99