With his raw style of filmmaking, Maurice Pialat has been called the John Cassavetes of French cinema, and the scorching └ nos amours is one of his greatest achievements. In a revelatory film debut, the dynamic, fresh-face... more »d Sandrine Bonnaire plays Suzanne, a sixteen-year-old Parisian who embarks on a sexual rampage in an effort to separate herself from her overbearing, beloved father (played with astonishing magnetism by Pialat himself), ineffectual mother, and brutish brother. A tender character study that can erupt in startling violence, └ nos amours is one of the high-water marks of eighties French cinema.« less
Beautiful, painful, coming-of-age film... Provokes more ques
dooby | 08/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Nos Amours" (To Our Loves) marks the stunning debut of French actress Sandrine Bonnaire, then aged 16. She plays 15-year old schoolgirl Suzanne who stands precariously on the cusp of womanhood. It is one of the more disturbing coming-of-age films to have been made in recent years. Maurice Pialat's film tracks an adolescent girl's descent into a cycle of sexual self-destruction. He doesn't give any reasons for it. He just shows what happens using disconnected snippets of her life; at summer camp, in school, at home and with her friends. Why she implodes is never explained but left to the viewer to work out.
We first see her at a Drama Camp where she is shown rehearsing Musset's play "Don't trifle with love" (On ne badine pas avec l'amour). She sneaks out in the evenings for trysts with her boyfriend Luc whom she coyly refuses to have sex with. Then on a whim she picks up an American tourist whom she beds. After the American's callous "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am" (the polite nitwit actually says "thank you" after deflowering her), she retorts with a coldly cynical, "you're welcome, it's free," and there begins her spiral of destruction.
When she confesses her fling to Luc, he breaks up with her and she goes, as the blurb says, on a "sexual rampage," bedding practically anything with a pulse. Scene by scene, Pialat reveals her dysfunctional family; a father who adores her but cannot come to terms with the fact that his sweet little girl has grown into a woman; her weak, manipulative mother who resents her, especially the fact that her daughter is young and beautiful while she is old and no longer attractive even to her own husband; a tubby brother who is his mother's pet, who beats his sister regularly because the mother is unhappy with her, while at the same time showing a creepy sexual attraction to his sexy sibling. The most touching moments are between father and daughter; the dimple scene, where he notices that one of her childish dimples has vanished, his sad sigh about how time passes as he watches his daughter going out on a date which he knows will end up with his child in some boy's bedroom, and the final scene where he bids her farewell with his knowing, "you were not meant to love - you were meant to be loved."
A beautiful film, through and through. Painful and uncomfortable to watch at times. Not much of a traditional plot, no resolution and no explanations. Which will alienate 90% of the American audience but thought-provoking and quietly rewarding for those who care to sit through it and reflect afterwards. Sandrine Bonnaire in her interview gives the simplest explanation for her character's behaviour, that she was looking for someone in the image of her father and ultimately to be loved by him. French director Catherine Breillat also gives a fascinating insight into the film and particularly on why Pialat, without warning or consultation, changed the ending, with his character, the father, not dying as written in the original script but living long enough to send his daughter off on her metaphorical and actual journey to the new world.
This is a Criterion release so excellence is a given. The picture is presented in its original 1.66:1 widescreen, pillarboxed into an anamorphic 16:9 frame. Image quality is exquisite. Sound is in the original Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono and is crystal clear and full. As with any Criterion edition, this comes with copious scholarly extras, just over 2 hours worth on Disc 2. These include an hour-long 1999 French documentary "The Human Eye," exploring the film, its making, its significance and its meaning. This is followed by a 10 minute exerpt "Maurice Pialat On Set" from a 1983 French documentary "Etoiles et toiles." There are separate interviews with Sandrine Bonnaire, controversial French director, Catherine Breillat, and filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin who at the time of the interview was Professor of Film Studies at UCSD. There are 20 minutes worth of audition tapes for the various cast members, most of which also feature the fresh-faced Sandrine Bonnaire as she interacts with her costars. All the extras, save for the interview with Gorin, are in French with optional English subtitles provided. The DVD comes with an accompanying 36 page booklet, beautiflly illustrated, including interesting articles on the film and on director, Maurice Pialat. There are also transcripts of two interviews, one with Pialat and the other with cinematographer Jacques Loiseleux on the film and on film-making in general.
Note: There is occasional nudity but no explicit sex. Like most Criterion discs, it is not rated. However, if submitted, it would probably be given an R-rating, for strong sexual themes, nudity, family violence and language."
"Life's no fun when you don't love anyone"........
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 03/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As interesting as this film might be Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire, first role) probably never even able to have any sustained happiness, she is a attention seeker who slowly falls out of existence. "It's as if my heart had run dry." While we almost never see her alone, the distance between her and her family, friend Martine (Maite Maille), and boyfriend Luc (Cyr Boitard) multiplies quickly. Luc, not knowing how to deal with her emotional state or lack thereof, asks some questions to try to figure her out. As her father says to Suzanne, "you're so stubborn, you'll never say why," although that assumes there's a sensible answer. Eventually Luc gives up on their relationship, which is down to them sitting next to each other staring silently into nothingness.
Michel Pialat directs himself as the father of Suzanne whose apparently happy family life is torn apart by inner tensions. Pialat walks out on the family, without explanation, but you suspect he is unable to cope with Suzanne's growing promiscuity and his neurotic wife. This film does have a clever script that gives you the sense that even when people want to communicate, there are things words can't say. This might explain the outbreaks of violence, shocking in its immediacy and apparent lack of choreography, especially between mother and daughter and brother and sister. You would see this with all the face and head slapping that goes on this household.
On the plus side, what I like about Pialat's work here as a director though is that he makes us so self-conscious and uncomfortable. There's nothing melodramatic, conventional, comforting, or condescending about his presentation. In fact, in search of realism the entire film is anal about seeming totally unplanned. Pialat just throws us into the second troop of a small battle and forces us to gaze on in astonishment and horror at what's happening to those directly in front of us. In other words, he cuts us off just short of participating ourselves. I say a small battle because the people are made to seem inconsequential. Their worldview, at most, is affecting a few people around them. They can argue about things like history, but something has been recorded and no one can win because the other person just takes the cheap tactic of pointing out that they weren't there. There are no close-ups during an argument because no one is allowed any dominance. They share the fight and someone may come out on top so to speak, but ultimately everyone is left damaged. "A nos amours" falls shy of being a great film and Pialat's style is going to be too harsh for some viewers, but I appreciate it because it's challenging, different, and in it's own way rewarding.
A Nos Amours-See It
Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""A Nos Amours" is a French film that was directed by Maurice Pialat, a director I heard recently died. I'd never heard of the movie, but the case of the movie caught my eye at a video store; So, I decided to rent it without reading anything about it. I was worried at first, when I noticed it was in The Criterion Collection (I like some of the films in TCC, but a lot of them suck); but I was surprised to find out that this is a pretty damned good movie. But, I need to clear up the fact that this isn't a movie you want to watch for pure entertainment (It's not dull or anything, don't get me wrong); but it's one of those movies that is more about what it's trying to say than the masses it's trying to entertain. Sandrine Bonnaire plays the main character, Suzanne. When we meet her, her life seems to be going well. She's at camp, surrounded by friends, and is memorizing lines for a play her brother wrote. After the movie kind of gets little things out of the way, we find that Suzanne isn't a saintly young girl when she has sex with an America. Then, she returns home and we find out that her life isn't picture perfect. We see her parents argue with her about going out, hit her and when she comes back from going out; Her father Le pere (played very well by the director Pialat) talks to her for a bit. Then the next day her brother tells her "He's left us." I later learned that they put that line there, because Pialat didn't know if the character was dead or merely gone. I found it pretty obvious. Anyway at this point he disappears for almost the rest of the movie, leaving her mother to mope around and scream a lot; And her brother to become the man of the household, which garners Suzanne many beatings at his hands. It's a strange household, but there's many like it. Suzanne begins engaging in sexual relationships with various men (keep in mind that she's only 15, which I neglected to mention). That's basically the plot of the film. Oddly enough though, this movie after all is an exploration of sex, there is not a single sex scene in the movie. There's a few nude shots here and there, but there's not a single scene of simulated sex. Pialat uses sensuality more as a way to get the point across; Sensuality is, in fact, a plot point and is spoke about frequently by many of the characters. Director Pialat does manage to explore sex in the film and he does it very well. In the end, sex is merely a ways of escape for Suzanne, to get away from her homelife and also a way of searching for her father who has abandoned her. This is a wonderfully made and actually rather important film; hopefully now that it's in The Criterion Collection, it will garner more notice. Also, the film was made in 1983; the picture is absolutely beautiful, it could've been made last year. The sound quality, subtitles, and everything else about the DVD are great.
GRADE: A "
Strange and oddly nerving family relations
Jenny J.J.I. | 08/11/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film starring the marvelous Sandrine Bonnaire is extremely difficult to rate, namely because I neither liked or disliked it. I simply found it odd. The story centers around a young girl(Bonnaire) and her endless search for how to relate to people. She goes through a number of relationships with men/boys, and comes out no different, and then this story is complicated by her relationships with her father and brother who both flirt with her. the mother is in this familial mess as well, bursting into brief rages in which she beats her daughter, then her son, then kisses her son and falls on her bed trembling. One doesn't know how to approach this film, because it is just so strange-which in itself is a compliment, since many of the films that are around are simply banal. See this film if you are in the mood for a kind of study or glimpse into an unusual family, and confusing times for a female approaching adulthood. Another moment for you to better understand the oddness in this film is when Bonnaire wakes up in the morning and is completely naked. Her mother enters the room and looks at her daughter commenting how she should wear more as Bonnaire just stares at her. Another is when Bonnaire invites a female friend to rest with her in her bed, and the friend states that Bonnaires father is handsome, and when Bonnaires father enters the room is is obvious how titillated he is by seeing his daughter and another girl in the same bed. Quite repulsive this scene is! These scenes give you a little insight into this film to help you better understand if it is a film you would be interested in watching. It is not a film that you leave gleaming at how wonderful or frowning at how terrible it is- you just leave quietly thinking."
Essential French cinema: Pialat's '└ nos amours .'
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 07/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maurice Pialat's (1925-2003) film, À nos amours (1983), offers a fascinating--though unsentimental--character study of Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire), a promiscuous fifteen-year-old Parisian girl. As an escape from the tensions of her miserable home life--a truly dysfunctional family consisting of an overbearing father (played by Pialat himself), a world-weary mother (Evelyne Ker), and a brute of a brother--Suzanne engages in numerous of sexual liasons. (Bonnaire suggests her character was searching for the love that was lacking in her family.) The film was a critical success in France. Pialat won the Prix Louis Delluc for his film in 1983 and the César Award in 1984 for Best Film. Sandrine Bonnaire won the César Award in 1984 for her emotionally powerful performance.
Pialat's raw coming-of-age film is unforgettable and one of the high points of 80s French cinema. This two-disc Criterion edition offers an amazingly crisp digital transfer of the film, a 1999 documentary on the film, The Human Eye, and interviews with Pialat, Catherine Breillat, and Jean-Pierre Gori.