The work of director Maurice Pialat (1925-2003) is sufficiently celebrated in France to have generated an exhaustive Web site (www.maurice-pialat.net) and two DVD boxed sets. But his name is far from familiar here, and this complete retrospective of his features–continuing Friday through Tuesday, April 29 through May 3, at Facets Cinematheque–is long overdue. All films are in French with subtitles; for more information and a complete schedule visit www.facets.org.
I’m partial to Pialat’s 70s output, but all of his movies are worth seeing, and some fans prefer the more mannerist late work screening this week. Police (1985, 113 min.) stars Gerard Depardieu as a cop chasing after drug traffickers; as Pat Graham wrote, his “sense of legality roughly mirrors that of the criminals he hounds, and Pialat follows him around with unflappable resolve.” Pialat’s next two features departed somewhat from his usual volatile realism: The dark, spiritual Under Satan’s Sun (1987, 97 min.), named best film at Cannes, adapts a novel by Catholic writer Georges Bernanos and features high-powered performances by Depardieu, Sandrine Bonnaire, and Pialat himself. Van Gogh (1992, 160 min.), with Jacques Dutronc in the title role, is Pialat’s longest, oddest, and most painterly feature, taking a revisionist and highly personal look at the artist’s last 67 days. Pialat’s last feature, Le garcu (1995, 102 min.), was cowritten by him and his wife, Sylvie Danton, and features a performance by their four-year-old son, Antoine; starring Depardieu again, it’s a brutal self-portrait of a troubled and violent man. Also screening is the second half of Pialat’s 1971 miniseries The House in the Woods (see listings).
Tue 5/3, 7 and 9 PM
The House in the Woods, Part Two
Sun 5/1, 3 PM
Fri 4/29, 6:30 and 8:45 PM
Under Satan’s Sun
Sat 4/30, 7 and 9 PM
Sun 5/1, 6:30 PM; Mon 5/2, 6:30 PM