Les Films de la Pléiade

Love Exists (1960, Maurice Pialat)

With a title like Love Exists, it seems reasonable the short might turn around and stop being so intensely depressing, but no. The film, written and directed by Pialat with narration by Jean-Loup Reynold, starts with people leaving the city (Paris) proper for their night in the suburbs. It’s not clear yet what the narrator’s take on the workers’ commute is going to be but there’s some definition foreshadowing. Pialat does some visual foreshadowing throughout, but never as much as at the beginning.

Once the film arrives in the suburbs, the narrator talks about growing up there and how it used to be. Pialat juxtaposes the contemporary with the memories, using the sound effects to bind the two. Sound is very important in Love Exists, especially in the first half, as Pialat and Reynold take us through these neighborhoods, introduce us to the people living there. The mostly poor, the mostly uneducated, the workers. They spend their lives on the commute, hoping to survive to retirement age, their lives as unchanging as their ancestors, the fourteenth century farmers.

Contrasted with the plight of the working class is the build-up of Paris. The build-up of some suburbs. Next to the brutal new housing structures, where the children play amongst the concrete and steel, on their way to becoming good worker drones too, are the shanty towns. The debris isn’t from the war, it’s from the constructed. It’s not from the past, it’s from the future, which leaves out the workers.

Just when you think Pialat can’t get any more depressing, he looks at the situation of the older adults, the workers who made it to retirement, who exist in homes. Casted off once they’ve survived. The last moment manages to be even more devastating.

And Pialat and Reynold get to that devastation with the melancholic Georges Delerue score, which ought to work against Exists, but doesn’t. The music never overpowers the narration, the narration never overpowers the sound design. Nothing can approach Pialat and cinematographer Gilbert Sarthre’s shots either. Early on, it seems like the world can only exist in the black and white of the short, but by the end it’s hard to imagine the world actually existing in color.

Great editing from Kenout Peltier.

Love Exists is an extraordinary, rending twenty minutes.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Maurice Pialat; director of photography, Gilbert Sarthre; edited by Kenout Peltier; music by Georges Delerue; produced by Pierre Braunberger for Les Films de la Pléiade.

Narrated by Jean-Loup Reynold.


The Mischief Makers (1957, François Truffaut)

The Mischief Makers is undeniably well-made, with great photography from Jean Malige (if lousy editing by Cécile Decugis) and Truffaut’s deliberate and panoramic composition.

It’s an adaptation of a short story, about a group of adolescent boys who playfully torment a young woman they’re crushing on. While it’s got a couple awkward moment or two, the boys are never really threatening. And, even though Truffaut establishes the woman is one of the boys’ sister, they’re unnecessary.

Mischief would be stronger without them, in fact, particularly since Truffaut thinks adolescent boys are just the most interesting thing ever. The short’s a constant rationalizing of them being little jerks. There’s no dialogue from the boys–instead one narrates from the future; Truffaut’s not willing to let them be visibly mean.

Bernadette Lafont is weak as the girl, but Gérard Blain is good as her beau.

Mischief meanders on way too long.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by François Truffaut; screenplay by Truffaut, based on a story by Maurice Pons; director of photography, Jean Malige; edited by Cécile Decugis; music by Maurice Leroux; released by Les Films de la Pléiade.

Starring Bernadette Lafont (Bernadette Jouve) and Gérard Blain (Gérard); narrated by Michael François.


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