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Mouth Agape, The - La Gueule Ouverte

Title: 
Mouth Agape, The - La Gueule Ouverte
Year: 
1974
Film Format: 
dvd
Director: 
Pialat, Maurice
Language: 
French
Country: 
France
Actors: 
Monique Melinande
Actors: 
Hubert Deschamps
Actors: 
Phillipe Leotard
Actors: 
Natalie Baye
Film Reviews: 

Pialat's third feature takes up a theme which, on the face of it, could not seem more uninviting: a middle-aged woman dying of cancer, and how this affects her husband and son. But what Pialat makes of this is so recognisable, embarrassing and moving - even, on occasion, funny - that he more than justifies his use of a forbidding subject. He has ideas about how emotions involving sex and death are intimately related - and about the clarity and lack of it that they shed on everything else, as son and father each go lusting after every woman in sight. He has ideas about cinema, too, and an expressive style that can encapsulate a lifetime of memories in a single shot. Without a trace of sentimentality or easy effect, this seemingly semi-autobiographical work is as intense in its way as The Mother and the Whore, and unforgettable.[Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader]

Pialat, known in the UK for his admirable 80s films made with big name actors like Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert (Loulou, Police) deserves an appraisal based on his early 70s films of which this is perhaps his finest effort. Raw and tender, especially in the brilliant performances, but also very funny. Pialat's compositional sense is deceptively simple, honed over years of making tourist travelogue films, oddly askew suggesting an inherent danger lurking off frame. At the end, the mouth (ours) is indeed agape in awe.

Date Arrival: 
3 December 2009