Thursday, July 02, 2015

Passe ton bac d'abord

1978, France, directed by Maurice Pialat

A distinct change of pace for Pialat, something of a return to the sources of L'Enfance nue in geographical and sociological terms, and a move away from the deep focus treatment of relationships (familial and romantic) of the the immediately preceding films. Here, though, the narrative follows, in loose format, a group of teenagers as they attempt to navigate the end of school and the beginning of a new phase of life. Mired in France's economic and social woes in the post-1968 period, it's dispiriting stuff -- most of the kids are already accepting of a fate that radically limits their horizons (while remaining very self-aware), and even those who dream of escape have adapted themselves to the realities of precarious employment. There's also a profound sense of fraying bonds: even though the film focuses on a group, individual loyalties are constantly shifting and unreliable, with relationships taken up or dropped with little sense of purpose or commitment. One of the great challenges of the film is the lack of a truly defined protagonist, and yet Pialat makes of this a virtue -- there's a sense of collective experience that transcends individual anecdote, further reinforcing the sense that no-one can escape the fabric in which they've been living.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States