A stark, realist and bleak portrayal of a mother's deterioration. For me there is a beautiful paradox at the heart of this film: in allowing no concession to any kind of sentimentality, Pialat achieves a deeply compassionate portrayal of human frailty and familial ambivalence.
Harsh and tender, subtle and brutal, completely unsentimental but not lacking an ounce of emotion in its exploration of self-interest, indifference and unconscious actions. Pared down, unshowy acting, and brilliantly economic direction that only lingers when required.
Reviewer who states that 'Pialat has no love for the characters' has entirely missed the point. There is neither love, nor hate. Humans are far more complicated than we give them credit for (especially in tragic times) and are likely to do the most uncharacteristic things. We basically judge them not on a lifetime of knowing them but in one eventful moment, and that says more of us than them.
This director is a genius. He understands how humans coexist in a world of cruelty, both loving and despising each other at the same time. Selfish and self involved while a loved one is dying, sometimes kind, sometimes heartless, flawed, random, bumbling through this existence they may or may not deserve. Thank you for bringing him to our attention.
A look at the lives of those who are patiently waiting for a loved one to pass away, writer-director Maurice Pialat does a very good job of showing believable characters reacting to a situation in a believable way, yet plenty moments still feel satisfying in a cinematic sense (as subtle or unflashy as they are). Good stuff, but don't watch it if you're wanting something to brighten up your day.
This is how it was with my mother, the sudden descent from cheerful chatting to rattling object on a bed is shocking, then fascinating, then boring. Objects are imbued with a before and after tinge; the boxes of t shirts. Men paw women's bodies and are allowed to because the women know how men seek their mortality in touching them. No one is offended.