À nos amours (Maurice Pialat, 1983)
Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire) is sixteen years old and she sleeps with a different boy every night. This makes her family mad and her parents even split. She seems to be empty and needs the presence of boys to fill a neverending void. Made in 1983, À nos amours is considered as one of Maurice Pialat’s masterworks with L’enfance nue and Van Gogh. Its subject, sex with a multitude of partners in the world of young adults is still an important one and as of nowadays teenagers seem to start having sex in a younger age than ever before. Pialat’s objective camera works like a documentary observer that captures the life of a family that is torn from inside. The love between the father and the daughter, the love/hate relationship of Suzanne with her mother and the older brother that is involved despite his disgust for all of this.
What strikes most is how it is much more than just the story of a young woman who gets to sleep with many young men. It is about a family, the most universal human cell and how when they don’t get along anymore everyone is involved and gets collateral damages. It is also correct to believe that Pialat who always used his live as an inspiration might have made a representation of the impotency of the nuclear family. As he portrays the father of the family it is easier to associate him as one of the authors.
His main strenght as a storyteller is to present events and scenes without any introduction or narrative manipulation. He doesn’t need to explain his story, the story explains itself as it goes along. He takes for granted that his audience is smart enough to understand the meanings of the images they are watching. As mentioned earlier in this review, the documentary feel of the whole thing is elevated by the naturalistic performances of the actors and the improvised like dialogues. This is a mastered film and a stronger effort than L’enfance nue, it is more a whole than a patchwork of different scenes and it flows much better as a plot.
When someone thinks about French films of the 1960’s and the French directors that starter in this era we tend to link them with the Nouvelle Vague or French New Wave if you prefer. In the case of Pialat, he was not a part of it since his first film was released too late and even if it was produced by François Truffaut, Pialat never really was a part of this group. He even didn’t really liked the band of the Cahiers du Cinéma and he minimized the influence of the bunch of the Nouvelle Vague.
Having myself been a huge fan of the Nouvelle Vague, I find it very refreshing to discover films from directors thqat didn’t really cared for them. À nos amours has strinking performances for its actors especially the young Sandrine Bonnaire who makes a superb Suzanne that seems to be lost in this difficult age. This is, however, a very subtle film that may or may not charm its viewer just like a Eric Rohmer film where much is said and little is done. Well, here much is said and done but not much is really explain on the motifs and causes of the events. I would recommend this film for French film lovers and people who like films with a content that is not chewed already.