The singular French director Maurice Pialat (Loulou, À nos amours) puts his distinct stamp on the lost-youth film with this devastating portrait of a damaged foster child. We see François (Michel Terrazon), on the cusp of his teens, shuttled from one home to another, his behavior growing increasingly erratic, his bonds with his surrogate parents perennially fraught. In this, his feature debut, Pialat treats this potentially sentimental scenario with astonishing sobriety and stark realism. With its full-throttle mixture of emotionality and clear-eyed skepticism, L’enfance nue (Naked Childhood) was advance notice of one of the most masterful careers in French cinema, and remains one of Pialat’s finest works. –The Criterion Collection
Once described as the true heir to Jean Renoir’s legacy, French filmmaker Maurice Pialat is noted for his brutal, insightful portraits of the less savory aspects of family life and French society, as well as for his ability to evoke unusually powerful and realistic performances from his actors regardless of their professional status. Pialat, who is known as one of his country’s more “difficult” directors due to both his subject matter and on-set clashes, was born in Puy-de-Dôme but raised in Paris after the age of three. He started out as a painter and jack-of-all-trades and did sporadic work as an actor. In the late ’50s, Pialat became fascinated with cinema, and he got his start making short films, notably Amour Existe (1961), which won a prize at the Venice Festival.
After spending much of the ‘60s working in French television, Pialat made his feature-film debut in 1968 with Naked Childhood, a cinema verité-style drama utilizing nonprofessional actors. A study… read more
Violating the semi-ideological , ie Truffuat, non-threatening nostalgia concealed as bildungsroman, Pialat's childhood entity lacks euphoria/illusion, is all compassion, brutality; speech and act of Lucifer: never without hope, never to be redeemed: autonomy's violent push against its own ethical shape, a crime as elaborate as love: youth, the auto-problematical. Final shot: absence: the best material for a portrait.
A revelation. Every once in awhile I see a movie that has such a unique view on the world that it changes that world for me. I feel like a different person after watching it. I'll look at things and feel things and think things differently from now on, in a way I can't even talk about at this point.
“L’Enfance Nue” by Maurice Pialat describes the situation of children abandoned by their parents to comment about a much more widespread phenomenon of child neglect in today’s society. Abandonment of children is the psychological essence of child neglect. By depicting the destiny of a foster child, Francois – his way to criminality as a violent way of self-assertion, and by analyzing the details of his behavior, Pialat points out the inadequacy of the very organization of the care for abandoned, abused and neglected children in modern society. Foster parents often don’t understand that the abandoned children are not just abandoned but traumatized by this and that they search for reasons why this happened to them. With all the best intentions parents-volunteers don’t know that it is not enough to love a child – traumatized child is mistrustful of adults’ love and is prone to unconsciously resist their influence and authority. Foster parents have to be helped to learn more about child psychology in order to react to the child’s ambivalent feelings less sentimentally. The film is involving and scrupulous research into the psychology of child’s emotional trauma. Some performers from the first glance may look as not professional actors but again and again they surprise the viewers with amazing emotional elaborations of their characters’ reactions. The film is a “fiction” which is more “verite” than many documentaries. Please, visit: www.actingoutpolitics.com to read article about “L’Enfance Nue” - “Stationary Society vs. Children’s Existential Adventurism (Proper Child-Rearing Starts with Humanistic Education of Parents That Can Happen Only if Whole Society Will Invest In It)” – with analysis of shots from the film, and also essays about the films by Godard, Resnais, Bergman, Kurosawa, Bunuel, Bresson, Antonioni, Pasolini, Alain Tanner, Cavani, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Rossellini, Moshe Mizrahi and Ronald Neame. By Victor Enyutin
The critic and filmmaker talks his wonderful new film, which opens in New York on March 1.
While Pialat’s debut contains traces of his harsh, at times even brutal drama that would later become a staple of his work, it also holds just as many – if not more – moments of sweetness, while following… read review