****/**** Image A Sound A Extras A+
starring Martin La Salle, Marika Green, Jean Pelegri, Dolly Scal
written and directed by Robert Bresson
by Walter Chaw Manny Farber described the films of Robert Bresson as "crystalline," and it's hard to argue with the singular idea of purity represented by that word: they're all of gesture and implication, reduced down to the purest grist so that the powder of dramatic movements, rubbed together, might hum in miniature perfection. Diderot, Tolstoy, and especially Dostoevsky are sent to the kiln in Bresson, emerging at the end as a distillation thick with the observation that human behaviour, winnowed down, is only as mysterious as the mechanical motions of insects. When you use a term like "crystalline," you evoke clockwork--the inner workings of music boxes, say. It's wilfully, damnably, emotionally inscrutable, of course, and if it also calls to mind a watchmaker and his intricate art, then find another explanation for Bresson's fascination with, and eroticizing of, the secret life of hands.