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The Mouth Agape (La gueule ouverte)


Dir. Maurice Pialat. 1974, 82 mins. 35mm. With Philippe Léotard, Nathalie Baye, Hubert Deschamps, Monique Mélinand. After looking at the death throes of a relationship in We Wont Grow Old Together, Pialat turned to the end of life itself in his bold, uncompromised, and incredibly confident third feature, whose grueling subject matter stands in contrast to the great cinematographer Nestor Almendros’s lovely, naturalistic lighting. Philippe (Léotard) returns to his boyhood home to deal with his terminally ill mother (Mélinand), an ordeal that concludes in a heartbreaking final shot. “[Pialat] never imposes any moral judgment but simply demonstrates how people in their discontent and emotional vulnerability struggle to draw comfort from one another.” —David Thomson

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