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      The Devil, Probably

      Released Apr 7, 1978 1h 35m Drama List
      80% Tomatometer 20 Reviews 77% Audience Score 500+ Ratings The film journeys back to explore the lead-up to Charles' (Antoine Monnier) death after his body is found in a cemetery, shot in the head. Increasingly frustrated by life and the world around him, Charles finds no respite in the work of his environmental activist friend, Michel, shown through mini-documentaries. He sleeps with Michel's girlfriend, Alberte, finding a similar void. Religion and psychoanalysis fail to repair Charles' nihilist outlook, and he hires a gunman to end his life. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (20) Critics Reviews
      J. Hoberman ARTINFO.com One of the great Robert Bresson's greatest, and least-seen, movies. May 22, 2014 Full Review Jonathan Rosenbaum Chicago Reader Not a masterwork perhaps, but certainly the work of a master, and, judging from the work of many of his young French disciples (including Leos Carax), one of his most influential features. Mar 5, 2013 Full Review Michael Wilmington Chicago Tribune Bresson, as always, holds on to that grace, gives us that beauty. While watching this great rapt film, with its hideous vision of a moral void, we almost can see light flickering in darkness, feel a spirit descending. Rated: 4/4 Mar 5, 2013 Full Review Sean Burns Crooked Marquee If you find your way onto Bresson’s frequency, his films can feel like they’ve transcended cinema’s inherent artifice and found a purer, more exaltedly spiritual mode of storytelling. Oct 17, 2023 Full Review Jesús Fernández Santos El Pais (Spain) Robert Bresson works with ideas first and actors second, therefore, his characters chat, love, and confess like ambiguous intellectual beings. They never thrill or move us. [Full Review in Spanish] Jul 31, 2019 Full Review Clancy Sigel The Spectator Despite Bresson's characteristic evenness of tone and technical curtness -- his trademark is an almost contemptuous dismissal of flashiness -- I felt involved and moved by his pessimistic picture of four young French students. Jul 21, 2015 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (37) audience reviews
      Audience Member Robert Bresson was known for his austere style, which focused the camera on the hands and feet of people doing actions and avoided psychologizing. His films often raised spiritual questions and he seemed particularly interested in the problem of undeserved suffering. One of his most famous films, Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966, is about a donkey and its harsh existence. Bresson seems to be in awe of those who persist through suffering unbowed although they may end defeated or dead (or very occasionally they succeed, as in A Man Escaped, 1956, about a prison break). However, The Devil, Probably, is a more difficult case. In this film, the young protagonist, Charles, doesn't actually suffer much himself - however, he sees the environmental degradation of the world around him (pollution, unrestricted logging, nuclear weapons, etc.) and he knows that it will lead to the suffering of all humankind. He investigates various solutions, religion, political action, marriage, escape into sex/drugs but finds them wanting, although his friends vary in terms of their reactions to the oncoming despair. None of them, however, show any emotion, which is another aspect of Bresson's style (said to heighten the viewer's reactions); the actors are taught to be as inexpressive as possible, and here they are nearly somnambulant. In the end, Charles chooses suicide, not because his own life is hopeless but because the world is a dead end. Or so we can conclude from what is really a very sterile (and bleak) intellectual exercise. The young people around him are concerned about Charles (whose fate we know from the very start of the film) but they seem powerless to stop him (or perhaps they understand him all too well). The ending is rather horrific after a sombre 90 minutes of mundane actions and some ambiguous talk. Only a brief scene on a bus where a few other riders chime in, like a Greek chorus, to suggest that it is the Devil (probably) who is responsible for the world's decline, contains any spark -- and if by Devil, we mean human weakness, then I would elevate the level of probability to certainty. Depressingly relevant, forty years on. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member Bresson's style is all there and it is clear that he wants to make a direct statement in what turns out to be a very political film, but sadly his usual austerity feels a bit off with the kind of story he wants to tell, and so the result seems more pretentious than it is compelling. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member 7.0/10, my review: http://wp.me/p1eXom-2gC Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/16/23 Full Review Audience Member Dire, depressing film much admired by some. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member Like Vagabond and Memories of Matsuko, our protagonist is dead at the start of the film, but unlike those other films, you'll find it hard to sympathise with their demise. A "too intelligent" for this world Eco-warrior who thinks he's superior to others, has had enough of the world and gets his druggy mate to shoot him. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/05/23 Full Review Audience Member 'The Devil Probably' is the story of Charles, a student, whose research into political action has left him with little hope of anything actually getting better. His investigation into religion isn't much more fruitful as Charles life around him becomes more and more empty. This has got to be Robert Bresson's most bleak film. Charles is a person who looks around at our world and sees nothing of merit or actually change, rather is large circular cycle where nothing ultimately changes. He's a very intellectual character, and while this film doesnt' support any specific politics, he's a character who you would be more likely to find in a Godard film. I think this is exactly why this film works so well for me. This story never supports or denies Charles' ideals but rather, through visual storytelling, presents a world that is uncontrollable, suggesting that there are mysterious forces, unbeknownst to ourselves, which drive us to do certain things. Bresson isn't interested in lecturing us on what he thinks is right, *cough* Godard *cough*, but instead offers up the notion that we are all at the will of this mysterious force- God, Luck, Karma, Coicidence, whatever the individual want's to call it and as the individual ultimately have little to no control....... Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/17/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      The Devil, Probably

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      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis The film journeys back to explore the lead-up to Charles' (Antoine Monnier) death after his body is found in a cemetery, shot in the head. Increasingly frustrated by life and the world around him, Charles finds no respite in the work of his environmental activist friend, Michel, shown through mini-documentaries. He sleeps with Michel's girlfriend, Alberte, finding a similar void. Religion and psychoanalysis fail to repair Charles' nihilist outlook, and he hires a gunman to end his life.
      Director
      Robert Bresson
      Producer
      Stéphane Tchalgadjieff, Daniel Toscan du Plantier
      Screenwriter
      Robert Bresson
      Distributor
      New Yorker Films
      Production Co
      GMF Productions, Sunchild Productions
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      French (Canada)
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Apr 7, 1978, Original
      Release Date (DVD)
      Oct 1, 2015
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $13.1K
      Runtime
      1h 35m