Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition. Our hero Fontaine is blessed with intelligence, and circumstances make having ambitions a dire necessity for him. Thankfully, the same goes for our storyteller Bresson, whose peerless mastery of his craft make him yearn for a masterpiece and nothing less. The result is ‘A Man Escaped’, an astounding story where the truth is far more powerful than anything the fiction can conjure. You will watch it absolutely convinced, thrilled and mesmerized. All that cinema can do is done here.
As aforementioned, much of this movie is bound in routine. The title sabotages any cheap pay-off in the form of the impending fate of the escape. We know beforehand that he does, always one-step ahead of the dubious Fontaine, yet the more we knew, the greater the fear.
Bresson here takes a great risk, and it works brilliantly. He chooses for much of the action to center on the method of the escape, and what happens is that we gradually we sink into Fontaine’s world, scrutinizing every possibility and even the impossible ones. Here Bresson illustrates how the escape works in the chasm of his mind, not just as a physical process most fancy, but rather an exercise in inspiration.
Yet as the intricacies of the thought warp us, we see the thinker taking shape before us. And as he tries one approach and then another, we see the process of his mind at work. Yet it is part of the movie’s formal brilliance that, suddenly, during its final 10 minutes, too much seems to be happening.
The film clocks in at 99 minutes, and it Bresson’s genius that makes us feel that a minute less or more, and the whole movie would have crashed in on itself. The reason why it gathers so much power, is that Bresson knew exactly what he wanted to say, and what he wanted to say was so succinct by nature, that he only had time to tell the truth.
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