I have never read Dostoyevsky’s novella, “A Gentle Spirit,” but several times have I seen the French film Robert Bresson made from it. A characteristically sober achievement, Une Femme Douce (A Gentle Woman, 1969) concerns the death of a soul-possessing being, i.e. a human being (Dominique Sanda). Unable to meet the requirements of marital love, she commits suicide. . . In the Catholic Bresson’s universe, is she saved? In my view, she is essentially no different from Mouchette in Mouchette (Bresson’s previous film); so, yes, she is saved in tragic death.
I disagree with those who object that Femme needs a stronger spiritual dimension, although I do think it should be a more engaging depiction of a marriage. But then there’s the unforgettably filmed climax and denouement, with bold, wise closeups of Sanda and of her casket, etc.
(In French with English subtitles)