A well-off young woman decides to become a nun, joining a convent that rehabilitates female prisoners. Through their program, she meets a woman named Thérèse who refuses any help because she says she was innocent of the crime she was convicted for. After being released from prison, Thérèse murders the actual perpetrator of the crime and comes to seek sanctuary in the convent.
“Robert Bresson’s first feature, Les Anges du péché is a fascinating film, both intrinsically and in its relation to the rest of Bresson’s oeuvre. The script, fashioned by Bresson in collaboration with the Dominican priest Raymond Bruckberger and the noted playwright Jean Giraudoux, concerns the Sisters of Bethany, an order of nuns devoted to working with female ex-convicts. The film’s protagonist is a well-to-do young woman, Anne-Marie (Renée Faure), who joins the order out of a passionate sense of mission. On a prison visit with the prioress, she meets an inmate named Thérèse (Jany Holt), who rebels continually against her unjust confinement for theft. Upon her release Thérèse kills the man responsible for her imprisonment, and takes refuge in the convent. Here Anne-Marie tries to effect Thérèse’s spiritual transformation, but her obsession intensifies Thérèse’s resentment and jeopardizes her relations with her fellow nuns. For her disruption of convent life Anne-Marie is expelled, but secretly returns nightly to pray at the tomb of her order’s founder. When she becomes deathly ill, she is discovered and readmitted to the fold; and, upon her death, Thérèse undergoes a change of heart, delivering herself to the police and to her just punishment.”
“Throughout the film, we have felt that Good was not so separate from Evil, that between these two powers there were certain espousals, so to speak, which united them to the point of creating a homogenous substance, as in life itself.”