THE SIN OF FATHER MOURET (THE DEMISE OF FATHER MOURET/LA FAUTE DE L'ABBE MOURET) (director/writer: Georges Franju; screenwriters: Jean Ferry/based on the novel by Emile Zola; cinematographer: Marcel Fradetal ; editor: Gilbert Natot; music:  Jean Wiener; cast: Francis Huster (Serge Mouret), Gillian Hills (Albine), André Lacombe (Archangias), Margo Lion (La Teuse), Lucien Barjon (Barberousse), Fausto Tossi (Jeanbernat), Tino Carraro (Dr. Pascal); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Véra Belmont; Images Film Library; 1970-France-in French with English subtitles)

"Its retelling of Genesis is bold."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Based on the anti-clerical 1875 novel by Emile Zola. The idiosyncratic French filmmaker Georges Franju ("Spotlight on Murder"/"Eyes Without A Face"/"Judex") is the director and writer of this provocative surreal tale that takes a few bizarre turns in tragedy.

Serge Mouret (Francis Huster) is the new young parish priest for the rural village of Artauds. The villagers are not interested in religion. The frail young priest becomes obsessed with the newly arrived statue of the Madonna for the church. His ribald thoughts over the Virgin Mary leads him to openly show a physical passion for the young niece (Gillian Hills) of a local atheist. Like in Adam and Eve, a garden becomes the site where the delicate priest desires the tempting innocent young nymph. The priest's fascination about pleasure in an amoral world blends together with his beliefs in religious dogma. But the lust unleashed in the garden dooms the couple and leads to the girl's suicide, as she smothers herself to death with calla lilies and joyfully dies in her bedroom. It also causes the demise of the priest when he's confronted over his forbidden actions by his strict boss (André Lacombe).

Its retelling of Genesis is bold, subversive, cartoonish and dangerously absurd. It's a unique film from a master of sublime realism, whose visions are pointedly in favor of fulfilling one's carnal desires no matter the outcome. 

REVIEWED ON 10/12/2015       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"