Maurice Pialat

"If Pialat’s films, in their bleak examination of some of the least palatable aspects of contemporary French society and personal emotions, make for difficult viewing, their reward lies in an emotional and documentary power rare in French cinema today." - Ginette Vincendeau (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)

Maurice Pialat

Director / Screenwriter / Actor
(1925-2003) Born August 31, Cunlhat, Puy-de-Dôme, France
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: France
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, Short Film, Social Problem Film, Documentary, Coming-of-Age, Urban Drama, Romantic Drama, Rural Drama
Key Collaborators: Arlette Langmann (Editor/Screenwriter), Yann Dedet (Editor), Gérard Depardieu (Leading Actor), Sandrine Bonnaire (Leading Actress), Jacques Loiseleux (Cinematographer), Sylvie Pialat (Screenwriter), Pierre-William Glenn (Cinematographer), Willy Kurant (Cinematographer), Luciano Tovoli (Cinematographer), Sophie Coussein (Editor), Martine Giordano (Editor), Jacqueline Dufranne (Leading Character Actress)

“Working within the naturalistic tradition and using an unobtrusive camera and discreet editing, he studies the everyday existence of ordinary people, generally at a moment of crisis.” - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
“Maurice Pialat has evoked comparison with Ermanno Olmi and Miloš Forman as a director whose films are anchored in the particular realities of the everyday. But where Olmi can be sentimental and Forman puckishly ironic, Pialat is discreet and restrained: he gets in close to his characters and situations but remains detached, so that what emerges often seems uncomfortably close to the audience’s own experience. His style, at once intensely personal and self-effacing, is pointilliste (he was a painter before he turned, at a relatively late age, to full-time film-making), accumulating nuances of behaviour which may be separately insignificant but which together spell emotional crisis.” - David Wilson (Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, 1980)
"The French critic Jean Narboni once wrote of Pialat’s performance—as the policeman—in Que La Bête Meure (69, Claude Chabrol), that it was: “Massive, abrupt and incredibly gentle.” The description applies to Pialat’s work as a director just as it seems to fit the very controversial filmmaker in person. He can be confrontational and arrogant; he is renowned as a difficult, demanding director; yet there is a delicacy and a compassion to his work that evokes the French naturalist tradition of Renoir… His essential subjects are childhood and family, stability and the urge toward risk and adventure. He has often worked with nonprofessional actors, and he can show us a rougher, more naked texture in established actors we believe we know.” - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
“In his early films, the attentive, lingering gaze was unemphatically tender and compassionate, but as his career has progressed, the constant resort to pessimistic endings has led some to suspect an element of misanthropy at work - certainly, little humour or warmth is displayed on screen, so that the films may make for chastening, even depressing viewing. That said, Pialat is masterful with actors, so that even at its bleakest, his work is characterised by a sense of living, breathing humans simply trying to survive life’s disappointments and hardships.” - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
“Hardly the most celebrated of the French filmmakers to emerge in the 1960s, the difficult, volatile, uncompromising Maurice Pialat has cast a long shadow. Comparisons with John Cassavetes are appropriate. Pialat’s crucial influence on post-nouvelle vague French cinema - on Cyril Collard, Catherine Breillat, Xavier Beauvois, Erik Zonca, Laurent Cantet and a whole slew of actors from Gérard Depardieu on down - has not been properly understood.” - Richard Armstrong & Tom Charity (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
L’Enfance nue (1968) , La Maison des bois [TV] (1971), We Won't Grow Old Together (1972), The Mouth Agape (1974), Loulou (1980), À nos amours (1983) , Van Gogh (1991)
Worth a Look
L’Amour existe (1960), Byzance (1964), Passe ton bac d'abord (1978), Police (1985), Under the Sun of Satan (1987), Le Garçu (1995)
Approach with Caution
Drôles de bobines (1957), La Camargue (1966)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Loulou
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