We Won't Grow Old Together

Unfashionably late post–New Waver Maurice Pialat never exactly became a household name in the States, but his 1972 We Won't Grow Old Together is finally getting a U.S. release. The drama follows the affair—six years old and in extreme unction as the film begins—between Catherine (Marlène Jobert), a working-class 24-year-old, and Jean (Jean Yanne), a fortyish filmmaker stuck in the small-time who never tires of reminding Catherine of her background while belittling her mind. The film is a procession of their breakups and reconciliations during clandestine meetings, business trips, and weekend seaside holidays—for Jean still shares an apartment with his wife, Françoise (Macha Méril), while Catherine lives with her parents. Aside from his bracing naturalism, Pialat's stylistic signature is the ellipsis; his stories don't sequentially flow so much as swerve around madly, leaving viewers the work of constantly orienting themselves. Pialat described Jean as "an anxious 40-year-old adolescent, unsuccessful in his occupation." This must be taken as merciless self-deprecation, for the movie is autobiographical in the extreme, recounting one of Pialat's failed love affairs—which he also treated as a prior novel. The constant in his characters is a compulsive bomb-throwing impulse. "No one can be happy with you," Catherine tells Jean. "You create anxiety," also describing Pialat and his unpredictable, saboteur's manner of setting a scene. (NR) NICK PINKERTON

Nov. 9-15, 7 & 9:15 p.m., 2012

 
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