Maurice Pialat and the New French Realism
A two-part exploration of an uncompromising director and the impact he’s made on recent French cinema and its actors.
Following the success of Loulou and À nos amours, Pialat received bigger budgets to direct four films on a grander scale, and was rewarded with major prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Three of them starred the imposing figure of Gérard Depardieu, who was then at his peak and, in his unique combination of physical bulk and emotional tenderness, a kind of alter ego for the director. But even while Pialat appeared to make a police thriller, a literary adaptation and a biopic, all of these followed the uncompromising line of his earlier work, with a focus on emotional truth and a refusal to make the audience ever feel comfortable. His last film, with its fond portrayal of a little boy at the mercy of adult insecurities, harked back to his first (L’enfance nue) and brought the extraordinary career of one of France’s finest and most influential directors full circle.
Pialat’s tender and droll look at teenagers becoming adults in provincial France.
Catherine Breillat provides an uncompromising screenplay for Pialat’s hard-edged crime thriller.
Gérard Depardieu joins Pialat again for an austere portrait of a priest seeking redemption for a murderess.
Regarded by many as the best cinematic portrait of the troubled artist, Pialat’s drama is dominated by an astonishing Jacques Dutronc.
Gérard Depardieu plays a wayward father seeking love in Pialat’s final film.
Sight & Sound Deep Focus: The New French Realism (Part 2)
This second part of our season celebrating the exciting new talents who made the 1990s such vital years for French cinema spotlights three films in which the hard truths of life are laid bare, and it features breakout performances from a handful of actors who have gone on to become staples of French cinema, including Roschdy Zem, Grégoire Colin and Elodie Bouchez.
Eric Zonca’s unvarnished portrait of street life has lost none of its edge.
Xavier Beauvois works behind and in front of the camera with his account of a man tumbling headfirst into a world of chaos.
An extraordinary study in loss, featuring a spellbinding turn by four-year-old Victoire Thivisol.
Read related Sight & Sound features:
Deep focus: Maurice Pialat – the man who changed French cinema
After Pialat: the young realists of 1990s French cinema
See our Big Screen Classics screenings.
The French Film Festival is back from 7 to 15 November at Ciné Lumière, presenting the best and newest of French Cinema.
With special thanks to: