Monsieur Vincent - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Monsieur Vincent Reviews

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April 10, 2017
May be a little bit dry because of its lack of orchestration, but on the other hand, that gives you a more real sense of what sanctity truly is; the strong and meaningful scripts can be compared to those from The song of Bernadette
August 8, 2010
I was really surprised by the heart in this movie. This made me want to go out and feed the hungry, really! Any church or charitable group could do worse than watch this to find out how devoted one must be to truly carry out a mission.
½ April 27, 2010
Released in France (1947) and the recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 1949 (Foreign Language Film), this picture, widely considered Maurice Cloche's best, has been praised for over a half-century -- it's included on the Vatican Best Films List -- but perhaps too highly. A well-acted film, and an occasionally gorgeous one, "Monsieur Vincent" would, I'm sure, greatly benefit from the technical and conceptual advancements that followed its debut. Where it's compelling, and even slightly inspirational, it broadens its scope to encompass too many places in too many instances whilst executing at a brisk 114-min. pace. This leaves all but the title character misplaced in memory and significance by the moment of the movie's quiet, almost redeeming final frame.

Pierre Fresnay portrays real-life seventeenth century figure Saint Vincent de Paul, who, in 1617 (according to the title card shown on screen), travels to the tiny French village of Châtillon, where the townspeople have boarded up the house of a sick woman they believe to have the Black Death. Appointed the town's new priest, Monsieur Vincent visits the woman to the disgust of others, discovering that she was not sick with the Plague but had rather died of starvation, locked in her home. Furious with the insolence of the townsfolk, he gives the woman a proper burial and delivers her young daughter, whom he found hiding and near-death, to a family willing to care for her. This act of graciousness sparks interest in the citizens of Châtillon, slowly igniting a surge of benevolent and charitable work in the community.

And this is where the movie slides away. After setting up a foundation on which to continue a wonderful story of humanitarianism, with small characters we assumed we'd learn more of, de Paul switches locations, to a poor region of Paris, at the recommendation of Queen Anne (whom he had previously advised, then left for Châtillon), who consequently agreed to support his service work financially and, eventually, physically. Considering the vast realm of public service Vincent de Paul provided during is lifetime, it's not hard for me to understand why the film skipped around so much (it also depicted de Paul in 1640, 1645, 1650, 1655, and, lastly, 1660). But the fact that it did took away from its poignancy, which would have struck with greater force had "Vincent" been more explicitly focused.

Though, as there were several aspects I wished had been done differently, there were a few unconventional techniques that really caught my attention and fancy. For example, during a scene in which the priest speaks to a rich man of Châtillon while healing the leg wound the man suffered from a fencing match, the camera embraces the point-of-view of the man to whom de Paul is speaking, so that it appears that the audience is being directly spoken to. As the man complains that the village's poor won't pay him their taxes, Monsieur Vincent tells him of the woman who adopted the young girl he saved, and how that woman already had five kids of her own, no husband, and was the poorest member of the community. The sacrifice the woman made is the point of de Paul's monologue, and the filming angle brilliantly allows the moral to be addressed to viewers in a relatively personal way, and without being off-putting.

"Monsieur Vincent" is a standout religious tale, made all the more powerful by its truth and incomparable understanding of the poor and, more noticeably, treating and serving them. Written by Jean Anouilh and Jean Bernard-Luc, the film is also very funny -- sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally (those silly ol' French). It scrutinizes the ever-present attitude of most everyone in regards to missionary work that sets them apart from saints -- humanitarians devote time and wealth to a cause so long as it doesn't threaten their lives too gravely, while saints devote their entire lives to a cause (or more), expecting to have nothing as a result. Yet, as mentioned earlier, no matter the insight or uplift or sincerity or message, Vincent can't overcome its expansiveness to touch greatness. Maybe if it were an hour or two longer it would.
½ June 21, 2009
the best 'feel good' movie i've seen since 'it's a wonderful life.' an incredibly moving true story about vincent de paul's bravery in breaking through the taboo of helping the less fortunate - among both nobility and the poor themselves. the film is filled with wonderfully understated scenes that speak volumes; such as the wordless scene when an innkeeper's daughter brings water to de paul's room and smiles just a little too much, revealing, to his horror, the inn's true source of income. or the young nurse who open-heartedly comes to de paul's aid immediately after he's fled a disgusting, rich, chatty ladies 'charity.' the film explores not only the philosophy of the man, but the sequence of events that led him to those beliefs. pierre fresnay's performance is pitch perfect. he succeeds in shaming not just the other characters in the film, but the audience itself (it brought me to sobs). the film makes one feel very fortunate that we are no longer living during the black plague - but also highlights universal attitudes about poverty, crime, and sin that persist in every period.
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2009
This movie put a lump in my throat by the end because you really become close to this generous generous man. The movie gives you lots to think about. One idea particularly stuck with me- Monsieur de Paul has just realized some truths about the lives of the poor he has vowed to help and goes to a younger fellow priest to enlist his assistance. Monsieur de Paul says (in French with English subtitles so I paraphrase), "You can't worry about saving the souls of the poor. You have to help them live a life worthy of a soul first." That's profound to me! Compassion and pity are not the same and Monsieur Vincent struggles with feeling pity quite a bit it seems. However, you can't help thinking that this man, who served the poor, sick, and abandoned, started something worthwhile!

Claude Renoir was the cinematographer. Other than him, there are not too many people in the cast and crew who became very well known outside of France. Still it is a very special film that is not by one of the famous auteurs.
½ April 9, 2009
Another pretty good early Foreign Film winner at the Oscars. It's set in the 16th century in Europe it follows a saintly priest who devotes his life to helping the sick and the poor. It's a nice enough story and the lead title character is excellent, but the second half isn't as good as the first. I guess once his deeds get noticed by the royals it loses some of its flare. Still, it's a pretty good film.
January 23, 2009
O Golly, golly...this looks really good....
½ December 25, 2008
I am actually quite suprised at how underseen this film is considering that it's considered one of the best films ever made about religion. I would have to agree too.
November 5, 2008
The acting in this movie is less then desireable however the profound story and life of Saint Vincent de Paul is a must see especially during the holiday season. You are never too rich or too poor that a jolt of humility won't wake you up and take notice.
½ September 12, 2008
Monsieur Vincent is a good film that is hampered by its overeager aspiration to include most, if not all, of Saint Vincent de Paul's philanthropic work.

Released in France in 1947 and the recipient of an honorary Academy Award in 1949 (Foreign Language Film), this picture, widely considered Maurice Cloche's best, has been praised for over a half-century -- it's included on the Vatican Best Films List -- but perhaps too highly. A well-acted film, and an occasionally gorgeous one, Monsieur Vincent would, I'm sure, greatly benefit from the technical and conceptual advancements of times following its debut. Where it's compelling, and even slightly inspirational, it broadens its scope to encompass too many places in too many instances whilst executing at a brisk 114-min. pace, leaving all but the title character misplaced in memory and significance by the moment of the movie's quiet, almost redeeming final frame.

Pierre Fresnay portrays real-life seventeenth century figure Saint Vincent de Paul, who, in 1617 (according to the title card shown on screen), travels to the tiny French village of Chatillon, where the townspeople have boarded up the house of a sick woman they believe to have the Black Death. Appointed the town's new priest, Monsieur Vincent visits the woman to the disgust of others, discovering that she was not sick with the Plague but had rather died of starvation, locked in her home. Furious with the insolence of the townsfolk, he gives the woman a proper burial and delivers her young daughter, whom he found hiding and near-death, to a family willing to care for her. This act of graciousness sparks interest in the citizens of Chatillon, slowly igniting a surge of benevolent and charitable work in the community.

And this is where the movie slides away. After setting up a foundation on which to continue a wonderful story of humanitarianism, with small characters we assumed we'd learn more of, de Paul switches locations, to a poor region of Paris, at the recommendation of Queen Anne (whom he had previously advised, then left for Chatillon), who consequently agreed to support his service work financially and, eventually, physically. Considering the vast realm of public service Vincent de Paul provided during is lifetime, it's not hard for me to understand why the film skipped around so much (it also depicted de Paul in 1640, 1645, 1650, 1655, and, lastly, 1660). But the fact that it did took away from its poignancy, which would have struck with greater force had Vincent been more explicitly focused.

Though, as there were several aspects I wished had been done differently, there were a few unconventional techniques that really caught my attention and fancy. For example, during a scene in which the priest speaks to a rich man of Chatillon while healing the leg wound the man suffered from a fencing match, the camera embraces the point-of-view of the man to whom de Paul is speaking, so that it appears that the audience is being directly spoken to. As the man complains that the village's poor won't pay him their taxes, Monsieur Vincent tells him of the woman who adopted the young girl he saved, and how that woman already had five kids of her own, no husband, and was the poorest member of the community. The sacrifice the woman made is the point of de Paul's monologue, and the filming angle brilliantly allows the moral to be addressed to viewers in a relatively personal way, and without being off-putting.

Monsieur Vincent is a standout religious tale, made all the more powerful by its truth and incomparable understanding of the poor and, more noticeably, treating and serving them. Written by Jean Anouilh and Jean Bernard-Luc, the film is also very funny -- sometimes intentionally, other times unintentionally (those silly ol' French) -- and scrutinizes the ever-present attitude of most everyone in regards to missionary work that sets them apart from saints -- humanitarians devote time and wealth to a cause so long as it doesn't threaten their lives too gravely, while saints devote their entire lives to a cause (or more), expecting to have nothing as a result. Yet, as mentioned earlier, no matter the insight or uplift or sincerity or message, Vincent can't overcome its expansiveness to touch greatness. Maybe if it were an hour or two longer it would.

English and Spanish subtitles are optioned on the DVD and the film's presentation is sustained to 4x3 Full Screen format and shown in Black & White.
August 21, 2008
My family and I loved this movie. We didn't really know much about St. Vincent dePaul, and this movie really gave us an appreciation of this great man.

I didn't have much hope that we would like this movie with it being en Francais. So you have to read the subtitles, but this movie overcomes this obstacle.

I highly recommend for the whole family.
July 20, 2008
Starkly realistic for its time, "Monsieur Vincent" marries neo-realism and classic French cinema to create a costume drama that is, if not exactly fresh, far, far superior to most comparable Hollywood productions. The story of the priest who struggles to provide for the poor may be old hat, but there's a piercingly sad quality to Vincent's eyes that elevates the material. That he looks like a haggard Thom Yorke from time to time only adds to the appeal. This is no Bresson or Rosellini, but it's good enough.
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