22 April 2011 | Rodrigo_Amaro
The problems of money in a striking film
In the modern jungle of the society presented in Robert Bresson's last film "L'Argent" (The Money) the survival of the fittest gets translated as the survival of the smartest person and the material for that is the money in all of his forms. The one who has the money controls everything, everyone, has the chance to buy and sell everything but men are mortal and they end losing up his/her soul just to have the main thing to survive among the living: money.
In his criticism about modern society, Bresson follows several characters involved with counterfeit money made by some bourgeoisie teenagers whose parents don't give all the money they want; and this same money will cause problems to a lot of people including the good guy Yvon Targe (Christian Patey), a simple man, living a regular life with his family until the day he almost gets arrested for trying to spend this money given by him during a business trade. Yvon escaped from being sentenced, but the damage was done. He lost his job, finds another one not so good by helping a friend in a bank robbery but this time he'll go to jail and will lose everything he knew of his previous life. The destiny has some surprises for him and for us while seeing how things will be developed with him and the other characters.
The environment and the circumstances of situations changes the man into a different thing; Yvon was a good man before all that happened; after that it's all downhill from him, including more robbery and even some murders. Here's a story about life, the awful pursuit of profit over the weakest, the dumbest (after all, Yvon received the money from the guy at the shop without looking if it was real or not), and how almost innocent pranks turned out to be the deadliest, the most striking events. Interesting also the fact about the wealthy kids who make counterfeit money, ask more money to their parents. One of them has a great taste for suits, steal money from his former boss and then return some part of the money, claiming that he's generous, he'll donate some for the poor. The sense of irony in this moment is incredible.
Well directed, well acted and with a good screenplay, "L'Argent" on one hand makes valuable statements about the power of money with a positive simplicity, based on a work from Tolstoy (now, here's a man who really gave away all of his money to preach love among people). On the other hand, the most technical aspect of the film, the narrative makes two films in one that it gets dreary, confusing, and almost without any connection with what we were seeing. I'm talking about the last half-hour that didn't match so great as it could be, but at least Bresson proved his point by the violent reaction of the main character. I believe this conclusion was the reason behind the negative reaction from Cannes audience when Bresson won the award of Best Director, in a tied along with Andrei Tarkovsky with his outstanding "Nostalgia". While Tarkovsky was praised and applauded, Bresson got some boos from the crowd, and Tarkovsky being a great admirer of Bresson complimented, embarrassed the other director (I saw the video with this moment somewhere). It's a very realistic ending but most people simply don't agree with what was showed in this change of moral behavior from such a sweet character.
Bresson and his last film tells many great things about the necessary evil money is and its disadvantages. 9/10