81-year-old Sylvie is magnificent in this adaptation of Brecht’s fable about an old woman who suddenly starts a new life of delightful irresponsibility after the death of her husband, wonderfully wry and funny as she breaks out of a lifetime of devoted household drudgery to enjoy a round of whipped cream sundaes, movies and fast cars. Equally (or more) importantly, Allio never loses sight of Brecht. For the first time in her life, in her new friendship with the local whore (Ribovska) and an anarchist shoemaker (Bouise), the old lady begins to respond to people on their own terms instead of out of duty. Meanwhile her family, outraged at her irresponsibility, are seen to be irresponsibly frittering away their lives, toiling at jobs which serve only to build prisons for their souls. Witty, wise and gently funny, it is also, in its quiet way, a genuinely subversive film.
Based on a short story by BERTOLT BRECHT. This film is a rare treat indeed. It is an extremely knowing and poignant portrait of a 70-year-old woman named Mrs. Bertini and the manner in which she reacts to the death of her husband. For her entire life, Mrs. Bertini has served others. She married while a young woman and passed the years cooking and serving and cleaning for her husband and her children. In one telling sequence, the just-widowed lady serves a meal to her brood, with not one soul offering her assistance. The story spotlights her connection to two of her relations: her son Albert, a petty and constantly complaining loser; and her grandson Pierre, who is lorded over by Albert and who would rather be off playing his guitar with his rock band and living his own life. Albert expresses his shock and disbelief when his mother begins “carrying on” by befriending a younger woman with whom she goes to the movies and shares laughs. After spending her entire life in servitude, Mrs. Bertini has decided that she will not pass her final years playing the role of mourning widow. The death of her husband has liberated her. She no longer has obligations, and for once she will not allow herself to be dictated to by the whims of others-including her “beloved” relatives. This gem of a film works perfectly as a perceptive allegory about the inevitable passage of time and the need to live as one sees fit and savor lifes little pleasures. —Time Out Film Guide
French filmmaker and screenwriter and set director, René Allio was first recognized for his art work. Later he became a distinguished stage designer and theatrical director.
Allio made his screen debut as a director in 1962 with the animated short La Meule/The Haystack and became known for his creative films. He subsequently continued on to direct such feature films as Pierre et Paul (1969) and I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slit the Throats of My Mother, My Sister and My Brother (1976).
Allio also occasionally penned his own screenplays. In 1965, Aillo won a competing prize at the Venice Film Festival for La Veille Dame Indigne/The Shameless Old Lady. —allmovieguide