When You Read This Letter | Chicago Reader

When You Read This Letter

104 minutes 1953

Sex, religion, and blackmail feed the cauldron of this early thriller (1953) from Jean-Pierre Melville, the French cinema’s preeminent misanthrope. A young novitiate (Juliette Greco) is called home to watch over her younger sister (Irene Galter) after their parents are killed in a car accident, and when the sister is raped by a handsome drifter (Philippe Lemaire), the former nun comes after him packing more than a rosary. The atmosphere is so thick with lust and vengeance that any Catholic reading of the story is impossible; here the Church is just another shadowy institution, where people hide from their own evil.

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