Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble | We Won’t Grow Old Together [1972]

Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble-0029/10 | 27.Feb.13
Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble | We Won’t Grow Old Together

DIRECTOR: Maurice Pialat | WRITER: Maurice Pialat | CAST: Marlène Jobert, Jean Yanne, Christine Fabréga, Patricia Pierangeli, Jacques Galland, Maurice Risch, Harry-Max, Muse Dalbray, Macha Méril | France

One of the great strengths of Maurice Pialat’s Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, a tough-minded, unsentimental movie about the final disintegration of a relationship, is that we’re never allowed to see the relationship at a point when it hasn’t already deteriorated past the point of no return. True, there are moments when Jean (Jean Yanne) and Catherine (Marlène Jobert) seem happy together but you can see the apprehension in their eyes; both of them know that sooner rather than later a new quarrel will erupt and one of them will storm off. The movie is structured around a recurring cycle of these quarrels and breakups and unstable reconciliations. It seems likely that the relationship was doomed from the beginning: Jean is in a marriage that died years before but he doesn’t want a divorce and his wife in any case accepts the status quo; Catherine, 15 years younger than Jean, works as his assistant and had hopes that Jean would divorce his wife and marry her, but at the starting point of the movie, six years into this bumpy relationship snatched on the fly, it’s clear that will never happen, and yet neither is willing to make a clean break. And as the title tells us, of course, these two won’t grow old together. Pialat wrote the screenplay from his own autobiographical novel and you can feel him pushing his actors to the edge: both Yanne and Jobert give emotionally raw, naked performances that never quite get out of control and “actorish”; both are superb. Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble may not be an ideal date movie, but no other movie that I’ve seen has captured quite so well what this kind of failed relationship can be like.

[I’m sorry for this badly written review. I’ll come back to this movie, I know it, and write something better. In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.]

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