28 May 2012 | Red-125
A beautiful, haunting film
Quatre nuits d'un rêveur was shown in the U.S. with the title Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971). It's written and directed by Robert Bresson, based on the short story "White Nights" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Bresson has moved Dosteovsky's story from 19th Century St. Petersburg to 20th Century Paris, which I think works very well. Both cities are centers of art and romance, and the story and film are all about art and romance.
Jacques, a painter (Guillaume des Forêts), prevents Marthe (Isabelle Weingarten) from committing suicide, and naturally, he falls in love with her. (In view of Ms. Weingarten's sadness and her ethereal beauty, Jacques basically had no choice but to fall in love with her.)
However, we soon learn that Marthe is in love with another man. He has been in the U.S. for a year, and was due home on that day. That fact that he did not call her is what prompted her suicide attempt.
The film follows Marthe and Jacques for the four nights of the title. They walk the streets of Paris, and return to the Seine where musicians on a tourist boat are playing samba music. Jacques is serious about his painting, and discusses art with a friend who comes to visit.
We know something is going to happen, but we don't know what. You'll have to see the film- -or read the short story--to find out what that something is.
Bresson--as always--directs with the secure sure hand of a master. Every shot is beautifully framed, and we can almost feel the Paris night and hear the lapping of the Seine against its banks.
We saw this intense, quiet film at the wonderful Dryden Theatre in Rochester's Eastman House. Other reviewers have noted that it's difficult to purchase on DVD. That's unfortunate, because it would work fairly well on the small screen, and it definitely is worth finding and seeing. It's a jewel-like masterpiece.