The Mouth Agape
(La Gueule ouverte)
An incandescent masterpiece if ever there was one.Sight & Sound
Philippe Leotard, Nathalie Baye, Hubert Deschamps, Monique Melinand,
A dutiful son (Philippe Léotard) takes his mother for radiation treatment in a Paris hospital; when she is pronounced incurable, he accompanies her back to her home in Auvergne and persuades his reluctant wife (Nathalie Baye) to join him. "Intense intimacy . . . pervaded La gueule ouverte, which dealt with a man facing up to his mother's imminent death from cancer . . . Using long takes, the film quietly discovers drama in the most banal events and achieves an awesome balance between human misery and the fleeting moments of grace that make it bearable. Deaths in the family—a time for characters to face their true feelings—were to become a recurrent motif in Pialat's films, and in La gueule ouverte the scenes depicting the mother's final hours are imbued with an awe and simplicity that border on the religious" (David Thompson, Sight & Sound).