Robert Bresson's first feature film is the story of two novice nuns in a monastery that recruits sisters from a woman's prison. Anne-Marie (Renée Faure) comes to the convent from a middle-class family eager to take up her vocation, but other nuns begin to resent her earnestness, and they accuse her of pride. Anne-Marie makes it her mission to watch over Thérèse (Jany Holt), a novice who joined the order after her release from prison. Unbeknownst to the other nuns, between the time she left jail and when she arrived at the convent, Thérèse shot the man who sent her to prison. Bresson presents the relationship between these two women with maximum psychological intensity. The contrast between Anne-Marie and Thérèse's inner turmoil and their demure behavior heightens the film's dramatic tension as Bresson develops the themes of sin and grace that will preoccupy him throughout his career. Although it follows the rules of mainstream 1940s French cinema, Les Anges du péché introduces an elegant, pared-down style that forms the basis for the completely original minimalism of Bresson's later films.
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