Au Hasard Balthazar ★★★★½

Au Hasard Balthazar was the first film directed by Robert Bresson that I had seen - This was roughly a year and a half ago. On my first impression, it did nothing for me. I felt there was potential, but the wooden acting and dislikable characters frustrated me. But now eighteen months later I have seen most of Bresson's films and have fallen in love with his oeuvre. Au Hasard Balthazar stood as a much needed rewatch - and oh my how this couldn't be more correct. The reality is is that Au Hasard Balthazar is not a starting place for someone unfamiliar with Bresson - Pickpocket or A Man Escaped are much greater entry points. But once familiar with Bresson's approach to filmmaking, Au Hasard Balthazar shines at it's heartbreaking brightest.

I'm not the biggest fan of Ebert but his words here are near perfect -

"What we see through Balthazar's eyes is a village filled with small, flawed, weak people, in a world where sweetness is uncommon and cruelty comes easily. That is what we see -- but what does Balthazar see? The genius of Bresson's approach is that he never gives us a single moment that could be described as one of Balthazar's "reaction shots." Other movie animals may roll their eyes or stomp their hooves, but Balthazar simply walks or waits, regarding everything with the clarity of a donkey who knows it is a beast of burden, and that its life consists of either bearing or not bearing, of feeling pain or not feeling pain, or even feeling pleasure. All of these things are equally beyond its control." - Ebert