Arlecchino Cinema > 16:15


Jean Eustache
Introduced by

Régine Vial (Les Films du Losange)


Tuesday 28/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

La Maman et la putain was a Nouvelle Vague-style production, with a small budget, a little team, shot in 16mm blownup to 35mm… and a few differences. In an ideal example of producer-director collaboration, Pierre Cottrell built conditions that allowed Eustache to work as professionally as money permitted, with a great director of photography, Pierre Lhomme (who had worked with Chris Marker and Robert Bresson), and with no improvisation whatsoever. Eustache’s script, which he turned over to Cottrell only a few days before shooting, was entirely dialogue, which would have to be delivered verbatim. “The right take is the one in which the actors manage to say their text,” he told this writer. While too much has been made of the complex displacements between reality and fiction, little attention was paid to the fact that Eustache was writing for his two main interpreters, Jean-Pierre Léaud e Françoise Lebrun: “If they had refused to act in it, I wouldn’t have made the film.” Accordingly, each performer reacted differently: Léaud, as always, via a mimicry of sorts with his director; Lebrun, by antagonising her own character; as for Bernadette Lafont, fresh to the experience and unconcerned by the context, she was bringing to her acting an anger she’d never displayed before. There was love in the way Eustache filmed them, and he got unique performances out of them. Now that the scandal (crude language, shocking situations), the confusion about autobiography and autofiction, the myth of the auteur maudit (after Eustache committed suicide), and the hyperbole (“the greatest film” in decades, centuries, all times), have receded in time, La Maman et la putain can – hopefully – be seen at its true value. It is topical, a cultural extract of the post-New Wave and post-May 1968 moment – and one of its great works, next to Eustache’s contemporaries, Rivette (whose Out 1 was a major incentive for him), Moullet, Pialat, Garrel, Téchiné or Rozier. It is also, in its back-and-forth between naturalness and theatricality, nurtured by an awareness of cinema’s past, between Renoir and Murnau, both discreetly recalled.

Bernard Eisenschitz


Leggi l’approfondimento su Cinefilia Ritrovata

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Jean Eustache. F.: Pierre Lhomme. M.: Jean Eustache, Denise de Casabianca. Int.: Bernadette Lafont (Marie), Jean-Pierre Léaud (Alexandre), Françoise Lebrun (Véronika), Isabelle Weingarten (Gilberte), Jacques Renard (amico di Alexandre), Jean-Noël Picq (amante di Offenbach), Jean Eustache (uomo dagli occhiali scuri), Jean Douchet (uomo del Café de Flore). Prod.: Pierre Cottrell per Film d’élite, Cinema Qua Non, Les Films du Losange, Film Simar, VM Productions. DCP. D.: 220’. Bn.