Sunday, 11 April 2010

[329] La Gueule Ouverte Review, in Film International 8.1

A nice surprise arrived in the post on Friday: the new issue of Film International.

Good cover, eh? I'm still picking through it, but this issue is stuffed with great pieces and essays, including the lead article by Gary McMahon, 'On the Edge', a quickie meditation on comic villains, psychology and society, and a fascinating exploration of Egyptian cinema's representation of homosexuality, 'Real Queer Arabs', by Omar Hassan.

My interest is slightly affected by selfishness, however, as a review of mine also features, of Maurice Pialat's La Gueule Ouverte.

Starting with a short, quiet establishing shot in a hospital waiting room, La Gueule ouverte (The Mouth Agape, 1974) is a film weighed down by the certainty of death. Reportedly influenced by director Maurice Pialat's experience with his mother's passing, the picture is a stripped-back portrait of a family in the grip of mortality. Monique Mélinand appears as a woman slowly succumbing to terminal illness but, despite a few scattered scenes throughout the film, her struggle is left in the background. Instead, the lingering reminder, and eventual closure of her death is used as a pivot around which this piece revolves.

As always, it's a joy to see work in print, and this is a piece I'm quite proud of. It reminds me, actually, I need to get to work on my next review for Film International, of For All Mankind. I think Warren Ellis' recent column on space travel might be an influence.

You can read more about Film International at their website, or the website of its publisher, Intellect Books. It has become increasingly difficult to find in the UK, since Borders shut down, but if you are in the London area, the BFI store does carry it.

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