A Man Escaped (1956) ****1/2
Holy moly, does Bresson wring a tremendous amount of drama, tension, and emotion from the sparest of elements. Process is one of the underrated storytelling powerhouses, and this film uses it to full effect. Each little step in Fontaine's escape plan faces unique challenges that force him to adapt and improvise, and the stakes are subtly but clearly established by the sounds of gunfire regularly ringing out as executions take place off screen.
François Leterrier is wonderful as Fontaine. The movie is probably 50% close-ups of his face or hands and he carries it easily. (On IMDB his "Known for" is being the director of Emmanuelle 3, so there must be an interesting story there.)
And I was pleasantly surprised by the happy ending. Thirty minutes in I figured the "escape" would be a more spiritual one. Dying while striving for freedom, etc. So, I was bracing for Fontaine to get caught or killed until "Fin" appeared on screen.
The compositions are incredible. Like the one above, they are simple but evocative and extremely powerful. Just tremendous use of light and shadow.
This was so good. I definitely plan on working through the rest of the Bresson films on my list right away.