À nos amours. Screen 12 articles

À nos amours.

1983

À nos amours. Poster
  • The subject invites a certain social-worker condescension (it's the stuff of TV movies), yet Maurice Pialat's mise-en-scene allows us no comforting distance from the characters. His ragged long takes plunge us straight into the action and hold us there, as if we, too, were combatants in this family war. His unorthodox dramatic construction rejects the symmetry of classical plotting, and the narrative has a quirky, self-propelling quality that allows for some astonishing things to happen.

  • Painful, beautiful, and discomfiting, À nos amours remains as startling in its honesty, its unique mix of savagery and delicacy, as it was in 1983. Next to it, most adolescent “rite of passage” films, with their predictable dividing lines and alignments of sympathies, look tame, even reassuring.

  • À nos amours is something you have to live with; I fear this film because I am incapable of passively watching it: it penetrates me, impresses itself upon my existence, sends me into paroxysms, flays me raw, makes me want to walk 20 miles, firebomb whatever relationship I’m in at the moment, scream at a stranger—and this isn’t a case of trite critical overstatement.

  • The midnight chat between father and daughter, in which he asks her about her boyfriends, kids her about the loss of her dimple, and confides in her that he'll soon be leaving the family, is not just a beautiful portrait of momentary spiritual union between the characters, but also an exquisitely sustained study of a young actress, whose onscreen give-and-take with her director goes beyond improv exercises and into a feeling of unguarded being.

  • The exceptional brilliance of A nos amours. can perhaps be connected to the unusual number of extra-filmic dimensions that Pialat imported into it. As always, Pialat’s apparent distrust of the process of generating fiction caused him to appropriate whatever chunks of reality he could lay hands upon, in order to assure himself that the world he was creating was mediated as little as possible by the simplifications of aesthetics.

  • While Pialat [abruptly leaps forward in time] in almost all of his films, À Nnos Aamours treats this technique as a kind of symptom of the rupture of the father’s departure. Time is fairly continuous until the paterfamilias splits; after that, the film becomes jagged and the characters’ ability to live compromised. Maybe it’s a reflection of Suzanne’s gap-ridden memory, but more likely, Pialat is depicting something akin to the experience of pushing through a “traumatic time.”

  • Part of the genius of A nos amours is that it recognizes precisely what makes its hero’s sexuality so powerful and so dangerous: Because it forces others to see what in themselves they’ve been persuaded to repress.

  • ...À Nos Amours, the director's other exceptional film on adolescence, marks the screen debut of one of the most vivid, vibrant performers of the past 30-odd years: Sandrine Bonnaire... Suzanne is a knot of contradictions, like all teenagers; though Pialat refuses to explain or tidy up his heroine's at times maddening inconsistencies, there is never any doubt whose side he's on — a position underscored by his pleasingly perverse decision to cast himself as the film's most unreliable character.

  • [Bonnaire and Pialat's] parting at the end of À nos amours(while having no tragic dimension in itself) is as emotionally staggering as it is understated, provoking in the audience—through Pialat’s refusal to tidy the background noise or compose the images to reflect the scene’s colossal emotional importance—a sense of burning emptiness, unique to the director’s work.

  • There are moments that feel like the celluloid itself might burst, sandwiched between some of Pialat's gentlest accomplishments (particularly every moment he himself is on the screen, playing Suzanne's father). Although one could rationalize that this is far from Pialat's greatest work, all I know is it's the one that's the most imprinted on my memory, as though I didn't watch it so much as I felt it.

  • The teen-age Sandrine Bonnaire made her explosive début in this impassioned 1983 melodrama by Maurice Pialat, which is one of the cinema’s greatest depictions of a father-daughter relationship... The powerful cast raises a vortex of fearsome emotional storms; rarely has family love been depicted as such a violent, catastrophic necessity.

  • A brilliant work of fatalistic realism that views even its youthful love scenes through a scrim of melancholy. Bonnaire is mesmerizing as a strongwilled young woman whose instincts are continually undermined by her borderline incestuous father and brother and her neurotically resentful mother.

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