WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER/SÉRIE NOIRE: AS SCREENED AT THE IRISH FILM INSTITUTE’S 2015 FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL. A TWO-FOR-THE-PRICE-OF-ONE DOUBLE MOVIE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER (NOUS NE VIELLIRONS PAS ENSEMBLE). 1972. DIRECTED BY MAURICE PIALAT. STARRING JEAN YANNE AND MARLÈNE JOBERT.
SÉRIE NOIRE. 1979. BASED ON THE CLASSIC AMERICAN NOVEL HELL OF A WOMAN BY JIM THOMPSON. DIRECTED BY ALAIN CORNEAU. STARRING PATRICK DEWAERE AND MARIE TRINTIGNANT.
I recently watched both of these films on the big screen as part of the IFI’s 2015 French Film Festival. As a matter of fact, both movies were included as part of the 1970’s strand of the festival, which is why I’ve decided to lump ’em in together in a nice juicy double review, haha.
They’re not exactly peas in a pod, this pair of films, but they’re still quite similar in theme in that the main character in each is a middle-aged married man, unhappy with his life and where he’s going, but while he’s going there he might as well cause the maximum suffering to the woman or women in his life.
Jean Yanne won the Best Actor Award at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival for his role as Jean in the amazing WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER. He plays Jean, a married film-maker who has been seeing the much younger Catherine on the side for five or six years.
Sometimes things are good between them but, for the most part, he treats the quiet, long-suffering Catherine like the shite on his shoe. He hits her, calls her names and insults her intelligence and is constantly throwing her out of his car or apartment. As a result, the gorgeous red-headed Catherine is a deeply-unhappy twenty-five-year old.
The pair spend the whole film fighting, breaking up and then making up again. It got to the point where the audience was actually making noises of exasperation every time they got back together again after a particularly nasty bust-up. Apparently, the film is heavily autobiographical on the director’s part, and he certainly seems to know what he’s talking about with regard to married men and younger women or just men and women in general.
I must say, he captures exactly the sickeningly roller-coaster nature of a relationship in which the couple are constantly arguing, breaking up and then re-uniting. Catherine knows that Jean is bad for her but she just can’t seem to break with him. Having been in similar relationships myself, I know where she’s coming from and all of it rings perfectly- if horribly- true. She’s wasting her youth and her life on this guy who’s never going to leave his wife for her and never going to make her happy. There, I’ve said it, haha.
In other news, there are some gorgeous shots of the sea in the film. Also, the forty-year-old Jean has an extremely hairy body and seems to like showing it off. Mind you, it’s a ‘Seventies movie so he’s quite in keeping with the style of the time. And, speaking of its being a ‘Seventies film, everyone in it looks incredibly stylish and well-turned out, despite the ‘Seventies allegedly being the decade that style forgot. I put that down to the French people’s being the most style-and-fashion-conscious nation in the world, haha.
On the downside, I was disappointed with the total lack of any nudity or sex in the film. I naturally assumed that a French film from the ‘Seventies about relationships would have tits and willies galore in it but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Other than that, WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER is an absolutely perfect film and I loved it to bits, probably more than SÉRIE NOIRE, the story of an exceptionally oddball character called Frank Poupart. Frank is a pathetic loser of a door-to-door salesman who meets an abused teenage girl while trying to flog useless household products to the girl’s aunt.
I hated the character of Mona, the teenage prostitute with not much to say for herself. She’s nice to look at, but I found her dead-behind-the-eyes and as blank as an unused sheet of paper. Frank is entranced by her, however, despite the fact that he already has a pregnant wife and he’s not a very good husband to her.
Together, Frank and Mona plan to rob Mona’s ancient, crabbed old auntie of the twenty-five grand she’s got stashed away, but naturally, because Frank is one of life’s born disasters, the whole thing goes spectacularly awry. He couldn’t f**k it up worse if he tried. There’s never been such a dog’s dinner made of an attempted robbery, surely, in the history of film? Well, maybe in DOG DAY AFTERNOON…
Patrick Dewaere does a top-notch job of portraying the out-of-control Frank, who seems to lack any common sense, self-control and sound judgement. Apparently hellbent on total self-destruction, he’s an almost frighteningly unpredictable character. His descent into complete and utter chaos is like a poem in its execution. If a film can be poetry, and I think that maybe it can, then SÉRIE NOIRE is surely pure poetry from beginning to end.
WE WON’T GROW OLD TOGETHER is more in my line because of the controlling older man/gullible younger woman thing, something of which I’ve personal experience, but that doesn’t mean that SÉRIE NOIRE isn’t a masterpiece in its own right. I didn’t know before the festival that French films from the 1970’s kicked so much, well, arse. I’ll definitely be watching out for more of ’em in the future.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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