In this film Bresson gives us an anarchist vision of the State through his trademark approach that emphasizes the minimal through restraint.
An adaptation from a Tolstoy short story Bresson’s film has all the makings of a sensorial puzzle. One notices the use of sound. Generally Bresson uses sound to indicate objects that lie outside the frame.In this way he makes sound refer to the extra-spatial which is then brought into the space of the image. In this way Bresson generally plays with a volley of sound that is within a given time cycle synchronizes with the image. However in L’Argent the sound generally points to a sound that is within the limits of the next image. In this way sound is before image instead of it being outside of it.
The note marks the almost Dadaistic use of gaudy imagery. The image of the note points to realism defined by the reality of money and very different from the notion/definition of the real. In this sense L’Argent does not have an image, it has fragments that point to the false nature of the real i.e. the real image under capitalism. All image making has a monetary value but representing its monetary value through the shot of the paper note throughout the film verges on the grotesque as it gives capital a face.
Editing is delayed so that only action and reaction are captured. The event that lies between action and reaction is lost in the elliptical forwarding of narrative. Bresson can represent moments before the event and after it but not during it.
The sequences are brought to a point where either sound , image or action frees the image i.e. the fragment from representation. This freeing from representation is Bresson’s way of responding to Marxist theories that point to the contradictory nature of capital. Instead of this Bresson points to the freedom of elements which were as yet captured by his will as the director.
The film is about the police. The police are the decentered subject of the film. The police control money and capture all those who circulate fake money.
This brings me to the last point of my free write: machines. The film is a discourse on machines, as the characters fuse with them to constitute a man-machine vector dominating the urban landscape. Each machine has a function. For example the ATM has a function of providing capital whereas the motorcycles and mopeds are an escape from faking capital or stealing it.
The film points to the absence of grace in a world defined by monetary realism.