“Movies are the only place you don’t see men cry.”
Although a peer of the 60s French New Wave directors, Maurice Pialat didn’t start making films until the Seventies—films that both build on, and answer to, that earlier canon. Like Cassavetes, Mike Nichols, Bergman and others, he was interested in the evisceration of human psychology, with both its weakness and its brutality intact. Critic Glenn Norton called him “the master of intangible day-to-day emotion.”
We Won’t Grow Old Together was his powerful second feature, and he put a lot of autobiography (and auto-critique) into it. A married filmmaker (Jean Yanne, best actor winner at Cannes) is in his sixth year of an affair with a younger woman (the electrifying Marlène Jobert, a.k.a. the mother of Eva Green). Even as their relationship sours, and his behavior becomes more domineering, neither seems able to break it off, or to decide if they want to. The result is what, today, we would call “asymmetrical warfare.” Not unlike Carnal Knowledge, it’s a film about insecurities masked as cruelty, and possessiveness masked as love.