Saturday 18 April 2015

Naked Childhood [1969]

Maurice Pialat’s startling directorial debut, Naked Childhood, provided a clinical and subliminally devastating examination of the tragic social and psychological detachment of an orphaned kid exacerbated by an overburdened foster parenting process. As a stark yet affecting portrayal of troubled childhood and complicated relationship of a young boy with those around him, it is bound to evoke memories of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, and throw an effective light on the filmmaker’s frugal but mercurial career. The movie begins with François (Michel Tarrazon), under care of working-class parents (Linda Gutemberg and Raoul Billery), showing discomfiting glimpses of anti-social behavior like stealing money, taking peek at his sister suggesting his sexual awakening and killing their pet cat. These acts, coupled with his foster parents’ financial plight, force a change in his address. Despite the rather warm treatment he gets from his elderly new caretakers (Marie-Louisse Thierry and René Thierry), his behavior starts growing even more erratic, with recurrent flashes of violence, thus displaying his increasing disconnect and abandonment with accepted social norms, as a combination of his innate inability to form emotional bonds, deep identity crisis and the nature of his nurture on account of him being an “other” without a sense of belongingness. The film’s austere tone, further assisted by the excellent, unobtrusive photography that gave a “here and now” feel to the proceedings, and key asides to the central narrative, imbued a strong dose of poetic realism and a bleak sense of desolation. The mostly non-professional cast, led by the marvelous Tarrzon, was pitch-perfect in capturing the film’s blue-collar milieu, socio-political context and thematic essence.

Director: Maurice Pialat
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Childhood Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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