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Of Flesh, of Spirit: The Cinema of Jean Eustache

To those who know his name at all in America, Jean Eustache may be a one-hit wonder. But in France he’s far and away the most important filmmaker of the post–New Wave era. Eustache left an indelible mark on French cinema and exercised a profound influence on such directors as Olivier Assayas, Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, Philippe Garrel and Benoit Jacquot. His 1973 The Mother and the Whore is the kind of movie that few filmmakers even allow themselves to coindex, let alone make: brutally honest as self-portraiture, as frank about human relationships (sexual and otherwise) as movies have ever gotten, and the last word on post-’68 bohemian Paris. Eustache died before his time (by his own hand) in 1981. Often likened to John Cassavetes, he stands alone as a unique and visionary practitioner of the art.

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