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L'Enfance-nue [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1968]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2012
I've watched a few of Pialat's films and hesitated with L'Enfance-nue, but when I read that Truffaut and Berri were co-producers I bought the DVD from Amazon - at an excellent price for a Masters of Cinema title.

The short film that comes with this edition, L'Amour Existe, it a brilliant mix of political agitation and poetry - on its own worth the cost.

As for L'Enfance-nue, it is an amazingly compassionate but detached view of the life of a young boy in foster care. We can see the internal and external influences affecting his behaviour and outlook on life. It shows how foster parents with real love and tolerance in their hearts can made a big difference to these 'lost' children.

There is a scene in which a cat is 'thrown' down a stairwell which one reviewer took this as the point of no return, suggesting the film is a video nasty. In fact there is no actual cruelty to the animal and the story handles the issue well. The point is you have to look beyond the less pleasant parts of the film to really appreciate the story, quality of acting, direction, cinematography, etc.

I personally think anyone involved in foster care, whether a carer or in the profession should watch this film - if viewed with an open mind it has valuable lessons in it.

In short, thoroughly recommended for those of us who can follow a film which does not need to have blockbuster effects every five minutes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Maurice Pialat has never been very well known in Britain, no doubt because his kind of documentary-style realism doesn't appeal widely, particularly abroad. In many ways he is a bit like Ken Loach in his concerns with the difficulty of lives lived away from the glamour of big cities or the modern media. Yet occasionally such a film does break through and have a huge success, like Etre et Avoir a few years ago. L'Enfance-nue is a bit like that film in some scenes, where it almost becomes a documentary about social workers dealing with child placements. More than a plot, it presents you with a section of the life of Francois, aged ten, who starts out with one foster family and then moves to another. You feel the starting and ending points could easily be changed, like taking a slice of cake. He is a feral child given to unpredictable outbursts and is not likely to get easier in adolescence, however the film elicits sympathy for him by its refusal to sentimentalise him. The second set of foster parents, with whom he lives for most of the film, are of grand-parent age for him, but do rather better than the first; his actual mother is alive but doesn't seem to want anything to do with him. Inevitably he falls in with a bad crowd ... I did dislike the scene with the cat, but it is clear that the awful action is left entirely to the viewer's imagination. The film holds your attention for the sharpness of its observations, and manages to sketch in some touching and surprising relationships. I feel it slightly lacks the magical imagery of, say, the Bill Douglas trilogy or Les 400 Coups, but it is certainly very good and of the highest integrity. The extras in this 2-DVD set are copious and include a 19-minute documentary which is more poetic, as well as interviews and a booklet of essays and stills - Eureka cannot be faulted on their presentation of outstanding but non-commercial films like this.
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