Maurice Pialat

Maurice Pialat photo

Maurice Pialat

Born Aug 31, 1925. From Cunlhat, Puy de Dôme, France.

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Maurice Pialat is one of the cinema’s great humanists. No filmmaker of his time (and few filmmakers of any time) had greater insight into people, into all their myriad contradictions and insecurities, their hopes and apprehensions. Like Renoir, he was able to convey with the glimmer of an eye or the gesture of an arm what pages of dialogue could not: the halting attempts of men and women to connect with one another, whether successful or (more often) failed.

It’s the brutality of his films that we notice first: the destructive behavior of a troubled foster child in L’Enfance-Nue (1969), a disintegrating marriage in Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble (1972), a woman’s slow death from cancer in La Gueule Ouverte (1974), bouts of domestic violence in A Nos Amours (1983). Pialat refuses to excuse his characters for their (often severe) mistakes because he believes wholeheartedly in their ability to earn our empathy despite their flaws, and to locate sources of redemption even in a seemingly bleak world. Movements in his films may be terribly awkward. Relationships may sour. But Pialat refuses to look away - for then he’d miss, too, the fleeting moments of connection that his flawed heroes do achieve, and that ultimately redeem even the most extreme suffering on display: a tender exchange between father and daughter or husband and wife, a brief smile or embrace. They’re often lacerating, at times difficult to watch, but Pialat’s are ultimately among the most hopeful and most positive of all films.

Maurice Pialat Films

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