“We Won’t Grow Old Together [Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble], Maurice Pialat’s second feature, was made between films about an unwanted foster child’s search for a home (L’Enfance Nue, 1968) and the death of a parent (La Gueule Ouverte, 1974),” begins Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. “A certified hit in France with almost 2 million tickets sold, We Won’t Grow had its US premiere at the 1972 New York Film Festival but is only now receiving a 40-year-belated commercial release with a week-long stay at BAM. Given that unfashionably late post-New Waver Pialat never exactly became a household name in the States, this is audacious programming—but brilliant, too, an opportunity for a new audience to discover one of the great lions of international cinema. We Won’t Grow follows the affair—six years old and in extreme unction as the film begins—between Catherine (Marlène Jobert), a working-class 24-year-old, and Jean (Jean Yanne), a fortyish filmmaker stuck in the small-time who never tires of reminding Catherine of her background while belittling her mind.”
David Fear in Time Out New York: “Based on Pialat’s own autobiographical novel—a fact that deepens both the viewing experience and the concurrent nausea—this sophomore feature from French cinema’s bastard son lays claim to his brilliance as a chronicler of, to paraphrase critic David Thomson, battered humanism. The emphasis is on the first word: By boiling a dysfunctional couple down to a worst-hits clip reel, the director created one painful autopsy of an affair, the polar opposite of those frolicking montages so prevalent in American rom-coms.”
“The self-excoriating style that the late Pialat practiced in We Won’t Grow Old Together and throughout his career returns for more careful consideration at perhaps the most opportune time,” suggests Chris Cabin in Slant, “as disciples of the French filmmaker’s unforgiving artistic tendencies (Hong Sang-soo and Joe Swanberg, to name just a pair) are now encountering critical accusations of stagnation and repetitiveness. It’s a feeling that can be felt in the film’s undercurrent, as a great deal of Jean’s volatile emotions seem to stem from his own inability to invent and change; Catherine often tells Jean that he should be working on his screenplay and he’s quick to ignore or dismiss such suggestions. Though small in scale and arguably repetitive, We Won’t Grow Old Together strikes at the heart of how devotion to art and devotion to life sometimes crash catastrophically, and how one can often either can tend to or rub salt in the wound the other inflicted.”
“If this is a self-portrait, it’s an unflinchingly negative one,” wrote Ed Howard last year. In 2009, Masters of Cinema released We Won’t Grow on DVD in the UK, and Gary Tooze wrote at DVD Beaver: “This is another in MoC’s line of Pialat films, with L’enfance nue, La gueule ouverte, and Police already available and this, Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, and Passe ton bac d’abord, with Sous le soleil de Satan and À nos amours yet to come. Pialat made only ten feature length films in his career and it’s such a pleasure to own and watch much of his fine work through such a competent DVD production outfit like Masters of Cinema.”
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