Quick recap: A young priest keeps a diary of his time at a parish
Fun (?) fact: The hand, as well as the handwriting throughout the film belong to director Robert Bresson. Yes, this was the most fun fact I could find about the film, which does not bode well for its rating from me.
My thoughts: 179 movies in and I’m already getting tired of the ‘sad priest’ and ‘crisis of faith’ trope. Had I seen this movie before Winter Light, I might have appreciated it more, but that’s the way this goes sometimes. Just once, I’d like to see a movie about a priest who learns rad tricks on a skateboard for his congregation. The only crisis of faith he would suffer would be when he isn’t sure he can master a 360 flip in time for the competition against the rival Baptist church down the road. I’m not asking for much, you know. Just a skateboarding priest. With blue hair. And maybe the ability to fly.
Quite honestly, I’m not really sure what I was watching most of the time. The beginning of the film made me think that the priest had been thrown into a parish that he wasn’t able to handle. He’s unable to make anyone happy and at the first sign of difficulty runs to a nearby priest for guidance. As he starts to interact more with the locals, I felt an almost sinister vibe to the town, from the little girls in Communion class humiliating him to the suicide of the doctor. That would’ve made the movie far more interesting, if it turns out the priest had been sent to a parish full of demons.
The main storyline with the Count was also confusing. Everyone in that house had some sort of issue that involved the priest, but all the issues contradicted each other so much that I didn’t know who to believe, if anyone. Part of me wonders if that was the point, that the priest should’ve just left them all alone instead of meddling in affairs he didn’t belong in, but that also says a lot about his character. Throughout the movie, the priest suffers from some mysterious stomach ailment which finally leads him to seek medical attention in the end. The Count’s daughter comes by to talk, and although she has caused so much trouble,the priest continues to talk to her and calmly explain his actions. This is where the movie turned the priest into a God-like Saint role, putting others before himself, even to the detriment of his health.
It is revealed at the end of the film that the priest has stomach cancer and dies, but not before regaining his faith. It was a decent ending, I suppose, but as a whole, Diary of a Country Priest was a bit too heavy for me to ingest.
Final review: 2/5. Different time and different place, I might’ve enjoyed it more, although this isn’t really the kind of film to ‘enjoy’
Up next: Le Million