Having watched Judex, which is also by director Georges Franju, I expected this movie to be a sort of dreamy-like. It turns out Judex is a better film, although there are those dreamy parts in La faute de l'abbé Mouret. Adapted from Émile Zola's novel, this is a sad movie - as expected.
Young Father Mouret is a handsome priest who believes that he can do good in the world, or at least in the little village where he lives. Almost no one comes to Mass, but when a villager is dying, Father Mouret thinks it's necessary that he gives the person the last sacrament - although when he arrives in that house, no one pay attention to him because they are busy searching the dead person's hidden gold coins. When his uncle, a doctor, comes to see an 'unfaithful man' who lives in a big house called Paradou (Paradise?), Father Mouret goes with him - hoping to be able to make the 'unfaithful man' a believer. He fails, but there he lays eyes on the non-believer's niece: a beautiful girl, wild and free, named Albine. She is as beautiful as the church's new statue of Virgin Mary.
Then Father Mouret falls ill and his uncle doctor takes him to Paradou, where Mouret is taken care by Albine. Because of his illness Mouret forgets everything - sort of amnesia - and as time passes, he and Albine are falling in love. These are the most beautiful parts of the movie. Mouret and Albine are like Adam and Eve in Eden. After they consummated their love, the wall that circles the garden of Paradou is broken by a thunder, and Father Mouret sees his friend, an older priest, and the village. He remembers everything, realizes what he has done, leaves Albine and Paradou, and seeks forgiveness.
Albine tries to make Mouret back to her, but as a priest, Mouret must not touch a woman, let alone marry her. Why such a love so beautiful as theirs, must be destroyed? Why loving her is such a big sin? Albine finally commits suicide and Father Mouret buries her in the church's cemetery, despite the older priest's protest because she was a non believer.