Tale [from Beatrix Beck’s 1952 novel] of a young agnostic woman’s conversion to Catholicism and her physical love for a priest during the Nazi occupation of France is handled with tact and talent.
The woman in question works in an office. One day in a fit of pique she decides to bait a priest but instead meets a young one who seems to be able to cope with her capriciousness. She begins to visit him and finds her true nature. All aspects of religion and attitudes are deftly treated in these well-limned sequences. Then comes the changing times of the war and her finding of religion and, at the same time, a carnal love for the priest.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, the feckless hoodlum of Breathless, here displays a reserve and understanding of his role as progressive young priest. Emmanuele Riva, the heroine of Hiroshima Mon Amour, gives the role an intensity that is acceptable in spite of some overdone personal tics and mannerisms. Director Jean-Pierre Melville has adroitly underlined the talk with good visual rhythm and an expert recreation of the times.