La Gueule Ouverte (1974) – Part of the Furniture

One of the things that is most fascinating about Pialat as a director is that though completely devoid of sentimentality, his work also shows a perpetual awareness of the temptations that it offers.  This lack of sentimentality applies abstractly to broad topics such as childhood but also, more concretely, to his own life.  It is said that The Mouth Agape is one of Pialat’s most ‘autobiographical’ works but this is not a particularly useful distinction to make with regards to Pialat’s work as so many of his films – including Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble (1972) and Loulou (1980) – are effectively just dramatisations of real events from his own life.  A better way of thinking about La Gueule Ouverte is that it is one of his more intrusive works.  It shines a light into places where we would rather not look.  An unflattering and unsentimental light right onto the death of Pialat’s mother and the lives of both himself and his womanising father.  It is a film about death without being about loss and a film about grief without being about sadness.  It is, in a word, pitiless.

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