|THE MOUTH AGAPE (LA GUELE OUVERLE) (director/writer: Maurice Piliat; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editors: Bernard Dubois/Arlette Langmann; cast: Nathalie Baye (Nathalie), Hubert Deschamps (Roger le père, 'Le Garçu'), Philippe Leotard (Philippe, le fils), Monique Melinand (Mother); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Micheline Pilat/André Génovès; Eureka /Pathfinder Pictures; 1974-France-in French with English subtitles)|
|"A remarkably sensitive
straightforward but complex and brutally
honest naturalistic drama on dying."
by Dennis Schwartz
remarkably sensitive straightforward but complex and
brutally honest naturalistic drama on dying. It's
based on the screenplay by French director Maurice
Piliat ("We Won't Grow Old Together"/"A
Nos Amours"/Graduate First"). While shot in intensely
long takes, it covers the family reactions to death of
one of their own. Critics have noted that during the
filming Pialat's mother died, which may have
50-year-old Parisian-born mother (Monique
Melinand) has terminal cancer and is slowly
dying in her rural home. Her anxious family gathers
around her death bed and astonishingly reveal
themselves as a greedy and selfish bunch. But, also
astonishingly, they show a certain tenderness and a
real love for her.
Deschamps), a clothing factory
owner in the provincial Auvergne, his hometown, is
revealed as a philanderer. Their married son (Philippe
Leotard), living in Paris, is like his dad
unfaithful to his wife (Nathalie Baye).
The son is very close to mom, while his wife is not.
They visit the dying woman from their Paris home and
all sorts of memories return.
Pialat, in an amazingly adept way, explores what keeps dysfunctional families together, what a huge connection sex has with both life and death, how the world views death, and the banality of life. To its credit, this superior film, so splendidly photographed by the great cinematographer Nestor Almendros, is not sentimental or moralistic. It's one of the great domestic dramas that for some inexplicable reason flies under the radar of most viewers.
REVIEWED ON 10/28/2015 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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