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Léon Morin, Prêtre (Leon Morin, Priest) (The Forgiven Sinner)

Léon Morin, Prêtre (Leon Morin, Priest) (The Forgiven Sinner) (1961)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 549

My Rating

Movie Info

Jean-Paul Belmondo portrays Leon Morin, an altruistic priest who believes that any sin can be expunged by a good dose of faith. Emmanuelle Riva plays a wayward woman who long ago decided that the easiest way was the best. Belmondo makes it his mission to steer Riva onto the right path. Given the censorial climate of 1961, it isn't surprising that the picture was shorn of 22 minutes for its American release. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Jul 26, 2011

Rialto Pictures

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All Critics (22) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (18) | Rotten (1) | DVD (7)

A fascinating, unexpected movie that fans of French film in general, and Melville in particular, will not want to miss

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Melville's eye for exacting detail here is expected. What is remarkable is the depth of feeling he exacts from the juxtaposition of these ordinary moments with their extraordinary context.

April 17, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a giddy bit of blasphemy to see Jean-Paul Belmondo dressed in priest's garb.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is a movie that moves with the diamond-cut precision and carefully constricting tension of Melville's trademark gangland sagas, the precious booty here being nothing less than the human soul.

April 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Miraculous cinema, even for heretics.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's slow, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and full of rich characters and interesting discussion with a strangely sexual subtext.

September 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

a thoughtful, moving evocation of spiritual life

August 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

A peculiar combination of intellectual and instinctive, but it works beautifully.

August 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's quite the chamber drama, a war movie set in intimate spaces and played out in theological debates and guarded discussions

August 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Religion to Melville is purified cinematic expression and gesture

February 14, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

A monotonous production.

December 5, 2009 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

This extraordinary drama doesn't just play games with sexual disorientation and philosophical argument; it's also implicitly about life turned upside down.

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Press
New York Press

A poetic, spiritual film exploring with elegance and simplicity the great human dilemmas in the context of one of 20th Century's France's greatest challenges -- the Occupation.

July 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Melville's film is a spiritual and an intelligent one.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Léon Morin, Prêtre (Leon Morin, Priest) (The Forgiven Sinner)

[font=Century Gothic]In "Leon Morin, Priest," Barny(Emmanuelle Riva) has a crush on Sabine(Nicole Mirel), the office manager at the correspondence school where she works. Barny does not take the war seriously when the Italian army occupies the town but things get serious when the Nazis show up. So, she and some of her friends work together to get their children of Communists and Jews baptized. Otherwise, Barny has only ridicule for the Catholic Church and she decides to play a joke on one of the priests. But Leon Morin(Jean-Paul Belmondo) is not who she expects and speaks to her on her level. He is so winning in fact that Barny agrees to further instruction at the presbytery.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]As rambling and episodic as "Leon Morin, Priest" is, it also contains a series of intelligent and witty dialogues on the nature of religion. In short, can there really be an atheist during an occupation? Morin is never totally just concerned with the spiritual, taking an interest in the temporal lives of his parishioners, even going so far as to suggest Barny get married.(Are they really talking about what I think they are in the following conversation?) This is at a time when the most common sexual activity is the casual contact everybody has with each other due to most of the young men being away from the village for one reason or another. However, I do think there is more to Barny's infatuation with Sabine than simply that.[/font]
April 19, 2009
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Another wonderfully directed and filmed piece from Melville featuring top-rate performances from Belmondo and Riva. A wonderfully eerie and depraved setting set the tone of the morally challenging film and are beautifully captured by Melville and lived in by the actors. It's a very thought provoking film with many symbolic acts throughout that you may not even notice without referring to the commentary that is part of the Supplements. A great piece from wartime France that showcases the French Resistance and the way of life for the civilians. Highly Recommended, especially if you are a Melville fan!
July 27, 2011
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer

"Léon Morin, Prêtre" stands out in Jean Pierre Melville's body of work. Better known for his American style noir films such as "Bob le flambeur" and "Le doulos", "Léon Morin, Prêtre" comes between these but is not a crime drama, yet a thought provoking and intelligent film.
Set in an occupied French town during WW2, with convincing period detail, Emanuelle Riva plays the widowed mother, who stumbles upon Jean Paul Belmondo's Catholic priest and over the course of the film starts to question herself.
Melville here wears his Bresson influence on his sleeve and proves he can successfully stray from the crime drama. The fact that he chose two established stars also helped with the public point of view. The action, if you can call it that, is very much dialogue based, but the conversations between Riva's and Belmondo's characters are never boring, and between these talks we have quick glimpses of how people continued through everyday life under the Nazis. I'll just also mention the interesting cinematography with interesting shots and Henri Decaë's great photography.
July 14, 2009
littlecharmer1959
Emily B.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Eva und der Priester (DE)
  • Leon Morin, Priest (1961) (UK)
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