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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French Pinter?, 6 Mar 2007
I saw this film when I was fifteen in the mid-80s and was quite affected by it. I bought this dvd a few weeks ago to watch it again. Inevitably, I had forgotten most of the film and have a different appreciation of it now but it still packs a punch. Michel Pialat directs himself as the father of Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire, stunning in her first role) whose apparently happy family life is torn apart by inner tensions. Pialat walks out on the family, without explanation, but you suspect he is unable to cope with Suzanne's growing promiscuity and his neurotic wife. There is a wonderful, tender scene between father and daughter when he tells her he is leaving. When she asks why, he says "Sometimes people just get up and leave." Simmering underneath is all that is unsaid. He comments that she has changed - then points out she only has one dimple on her cheeks, but used to have two. "Where did it go?" he asks. "It just got up and left," she giggles. The clever script gives you the sense that even when people want to communicate, there are things words can't say. Which might explain the outbreaks of violence, shocking in its immediacy and apparent lack of choreography, especially between mother and daughter and brother and sister. The excellent extra disc features documentaries and interviews (an excellent one with Bonnaire). It explains, for example, that the final scene, (a family dinner where the father returns for the first time since he left to show a potential buyer round the family appartment!)was mostly improvised. Pialat began to direct the scene, disappeared behind the set, donned his costume and re-entered the scene in character without telling the rest of the cast who now had to react to him. Superb! It feels visceral and dangerous and seems to get under the skin to the psychological heart of things. Quite Pinteresque in fact. Unfortunately, this major European film is only available in region 1 format with English subtitles so you'll need a region 1 player to enjoy it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars almost perfect, 12 April 2010
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This review is from: A Nos Amours [To Our Romance] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD] [1983] (DVD)
Technically a little better than the two-DVD French-only edition, and including some extras I had not seen before. However, when I turned on the sub-titles for a while, I noticed a few strange errors: for instance when Suzanne is swimming in the sea, she says "Je viens de boire une tasse" (I just swallowed some water) which is translated as "It's a lovely spot". On the other hand, even the book containing the screenplay (only available second-hand, I'm afraid) deviates from the original (or is it the other way around?). I didn't check the whole film, you'll be glad to hear, as I turned the subtitles off again after a few minutes.
The film quality is excellent: in some scenes I noticed details for the first time simply because of the high standard of the picture.

Altogether highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Pialat's groundbreaking contribution to cinema, or even to those who just want to see a good film which has not become dated. If you are irritated by Jean-Luc Godard's style (Prenom:Carmen was made in the same year), you may be relieved to know that "A nos Amours" at least follows a chronological path, even if there are sometimes some major jumps which the viewer has to work out for him or herself.

It goes without saying that Sandrine Bonnaire dominates the screen from beginning to end and demonstrates that great actors seem to be born, not made. And the famous scene near the end, where Pialat, as the father, returns to surprise not only the screen family but also the actors who thought they were going to hear the news of his death - chapeau!

As this is not a mainstream film, you should not hesitate too long: the original French 2-DVD version is no longer available (as far as I know) and who knows if this edition will be on sale for long?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pialat juggles detachment and intimacy to intriguing effect, 21 May 2011
This review is from: A Nos Amours [To Our Romance] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD] [1983] (DVD)
15-year old Suzanne (Sandrine Bonnaire) is a precocious child, living with her mother, her career-driven brother, and her sometimes overbearing father (played by Maurice Pialat). She has recently split from her boyfriend and is intent on moving from man to man in search of sexual pleasures and guardianship. When her father splits from her mother and moves out, home life becomes unbearable as her mother and brother disapprove of her lifestyle. She is most comfortable in the arms of a man, be it one of her seducers or her father. Men seems to flock to her, as she is pretty, charming and is happy to accommodate her admirers.

This is the second film that I've seen directed by French master Maurice Pialat, the other being the excellent L'Enfance Nue. They are both similar films in terms of themes and execution, and tell the familiar coming-of-age story from an original perspective. Whereas the former was a sledgehammer portrayal of a young juvenile causing havoc amongst the various foster homes he was placed, where redemption never seems possible, A Nos Amours' Suzanne is a more sympathetic lead character, and her journey is portrayed in a more subtle manner. While it would be shocking to hear of a 15 year old girl bedding a number of men, Pialat is more focused on what drives her to act this way.

She is not a tease, and she doesn't flaunt her body to anyone who will look. Instead, she seems to simply enjoy the comfort of a man. When the father moves away, her home life falls apart and her bed-mates increase. Perhaps Pialat is trying to portray the impact an absent father can have on a child, or that all women need comforting every once in a while. Or maybe this is an individual character study, with no overriding message. What it most definitely is, though, is a wonderfully acted (especially from the young Bonnaire), intelligent, and intriguing film that has Pialat's usual cold detachment alongside a certain intimacy with the lead character.
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A Nos Amours [To Our Romance] (Masters of Cinema) [DVD] [1983]
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