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The Films Of Maurice Pialat - Volume 1: Loulou, The Mouth Agape, and Graduate First

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday May 17, 2016
The Films Of Maurice Pialat - Volume 1: Loulou, The Mouth Agape, and Graduate First

Cohen Media's triple bill Blu-ray release "The Films of Maurice Pialat, Volume 1" offers the Gérard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert-starring "Loulou," the family drama "The Mouth Agape," and the rollicking "Graduate First."

In "Loulou" (1980), Depardieu plays a louche young man named Louis (the film takes its title from his nickname). Huppert plays Nelly, a woman who gets so fed up with her overbearing boyfriend André (Guy Marchand) that she takes up with the lazy, unreliable Loulou instead, finding both freedom and disappointment in the laxity of life with him.

In "The Mouth Agape" (1974) a young man named Phillippe (Philippe Léotard) takes a detour from his life to stay with his parents in their small village. His mother, Monique (Monique Mélinand) is dying of cancer; his father, Roger (Hubert Deschamps), despite being notorious in the village for his skirt-chasing ways, is distraught at her loss. It's an unsparing look at the sad and sometimes ugly prospects of life and death alike.

The most cheerful of the trio is "Graduate First" (1978), which is still not a happy film but it at least captures a sense of youthful adventure, following as it does a group of teens impatient for their school days to end and their lives to begin. Awash in sex, dope, and hormones, some of the kids chart unfortunate courses; others merely drift. Through it all, like a youthful version of Loulou, swims a young playboy named Bernard (Bernard Tronczak).

The extensive extras on this set will leave you reeling with more facts and anecdotes about Maurice Pialat than you ever thought you'd care to know. Colleagues praise and criticize him: Patrick Granperret, Pialat's assistant director on "Graduate First" and "Loulou," recalls a fractious working relationship and notes of the director, "He could be lovely and he could be ruthless." Pierre-William Glenn, who worked on those same films as Director of Photography, reminisces on having called working on those projects with the notoriously temperamental director "painful experiences" in a magazine interview, and got harassing phone calls for years after.

Huppert discusses her time working with Pialat on "Loulou," and shares an anecdote -- noted also by journalist Dominique Maillet in his interview -- an episode in which Pialat, in a fit of self-doubt, deserted the shoot for several days. (Maillet claims Pialat went to see "Apocalypse Now.") Actor Jean-François Balmer -- who appears, with Jacques Villeret in scenes cut from "The Mouth Agape" -- offers a contrasting view, saying that Pialat's belligerence was "an act" and offering the opinion that he was "A gentle man." (Someone else claims that Pialat bullied Depardieu on the set of "Loulou," which, given the body of work the two created together, makes one wish from Depardieu's participation.) Wife Micheline Pialat describes a relationship that was fruitful, unnerving, and complicated.

Pialat himself appears in extracts from various interviews in the feature-length documentary "Maurice Pialat Love Exists," which references the title of Pialat's breakthrough 1960 short documentary. Though the doc is in standard def, and looks pretty muddy at times, it deftly illustrates Pialat's career, and his life, with clips from his own and other filmmakers' movies used to good illustrative effect.

This set is sure to awaken fresh appreciation for a man who was tormented by insecurities and driven to create film even under adverse conditions. Indeed, it's noted in several places that he relished adversity. Given the realistic texture of his work, you can appreciate this facet of his process.


"The Films of Maurice Pialat, Volume 1"
Blu-ray
$31.49
http://cohenmedia.net/films/maurice-pialat-vol-1

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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