Stunning film


Maurice Pialat seems to be neglected and yet he's one of the great French film makers based on the films I've watched to date. He will take any subject, never shirking the mundane, the ugly and uncomfortable, subject it to a steady observation in bright light that compels watching. His films are visually beautiful in spite of the subjects, which are mostly human conditions.

In La Gueule Oueverte we observe a woman dying from an incurable illness, which is never named but might be cancer. The subject is close to my bones as my mother died recently from cancer. Pialat spares the woman, Monique, the indignity of being watched in every dying moment as the film moves to observe the effects on her immediate intimates; husband, son and daughter-in-law. The camera returns to her now and again to remind us of what is there in the background for these characters, a dying woman, and what is in the background for us the viewers, our mortality. This is a wonderful film with some stunning scenes and moments of genuine humour, e.g. the father and son arguing over their prone mother and wife, or the young woman buying a t-shirt from a dirty old man. The film seems to lack judgement. We watch what unfolds and accept the characters' lives as they play out. They do not seem to be learning from Monique's disintegration to death. So perhaps it is for those when comfortable in the idea of being alive.

A bird sings and the mountain's silence deepens.

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