English Title: We Won’t Grow Old Together
Original Title: Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble
Country: France, Italy
Director: Maurice Pialat
Writer: Maurice Pialat
Cinematography: Luciano Tovoli
In view of my kick-start to learn French, I will watch more French-speaking output, so today my random pick is Maurice Pialat’s second feature film, Pialat is often cited as an unsung maestro among his generation, so never to late to begin a voyage into a new auteur’s world.
WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER, the title is self-evident for its glum denouement, the story centres on a couple, Jean (Yanne) and Catherine (Jobert, the future mother of Eva Green!), their suffocating relationship is undergone a sea change after 6 years together, meanwhile, Jean’s estranged wife (yes, he is still married) Françoise (Méril) is back, but don’t expect she is going to fight for Jean, it is way too melodramatic for a Gallic love battlefield, from A to Z it is a tug-of-war between Jean and Catherine.
The film is chatty, and the most frequent scenario is they are talking in Jean’s car, often when Jean picks her up from train station or drives her to the station, Catherine is circling around with her parents (Fabréga and Galland) and grandma (Dalbray), as a way of evasion towards Jean’s volatile manner or his oppressive passion. Her quandary is egregiously presented from the scenes where she is treated like a complete trash by him just because she cannot be a perfect assistant for his shooting, then being roughly thrown out of the hotel, it is all done in a surprising and unsettling rush, yet, Catherine keeps going back to him, even after a insufferable humiliation from his minutes-long harangue, anyone with a normal conscience can squarely feel repellent to Jean, a hairy male-chauvinistic swine, why on earth Catherine has to endure all this?
There is no twist or hidden secrets whatsoever, simply because she loved him for 6 years, as a woman, she cannot cut things loose all of a sudden, but gradually she is retreating from Jean, and seeking for a safe means to get rid of him, this is a higher level of women’s wits, always secure a Plan B before cutting off Plan A. By slowly revealing her inside feelings, e.g. her love for him is waning, Catherine plays on-and-off with him excessively, however, it is then, Jean’s attitude starts to alter, he admits that he didn’t love her at first, but when she flinches, he wants her more than ever, a typical psyche of vacuous men, who always wants those he cannot get hold of.
The film is a sinuous chamber drama congested with drab conversations, and there are minimal characters bolstering the structure of a feeble plot, it is inevitably overwrought with heavy-handed pretentiousness and arbitrary editing choices which disrupt a free-flowing chronic narrating, the two leads are exacting their best to make things as intriguing as possible (Yanne won BEST ACTOR in the Cannes), but due to the fact the story is strictly autobiographic, for those who have not been so experienced in a sadomasochistic emotional turmoil, the film is too far-fetched and overtly affected. Thus, its niche market is rather limited, but to be fair, the film at least showcases that Pialat is a mastermind of human psychology, and a confident filmmaker who is brave enough to strip off all the mood-soothing scores, and dissects the most ugly facet of a futile romance, full of violence, exhaustion and angst, applaudable but not entirely recommendable.