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500 Five-Star: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

September 23, 2011

 

Honestly (and possibly for the first time ever), I’m a bit lost for words with this one.  It didn’t really interest me, but at the same time I wasn’t particularly bored or annoyed by it either.  It was just *there*.  This most likely has a lot to do with the lack of real story (the basic gist: a donkey and its first owner, played by Anne Wiazemsky, live parallel lives of cruelty and oppression, mostly explored by way of heavy symbolism) and the lack of ‘acting’.  Director Robert Bresson was renowned for being a control-freak, demanding that his actors do not give performances and do not include any of their own interpretations of the words they are reciting.  Therefore, as someone who loves to analyse and enjoy the performances within a film, I found it a struggle to really care about this one.  It’s really a shame, because Anne Wiazemsky is a stunning screen presence, and I would have been fascinated to see her allowed to play her role with a little freedom.  As it is, it’s the donkey who is most memorable; its final scenes are truly animal Oscar-worthy.

 

Verdict:

I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it.  I would probably have given it two stars, but thanks to the donkey I was genuinely touched by the ending so I’ll be generous…

***

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