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A film in which nuance is everything . . . the performances are stunning.Time Out
Michel Tarrazon, Linda Gutemberg, Raoul Billerey, Pierrette Deplanque,
It is easy to see why Truffaut was a keen supporter of Pialat's first feature, which recalls The 400 Blows in its semi-autobiographical story of a young boy lashing out at life, and being passed from one foster family to another as he proves increasingly unmanageable. When he is placed in the home of an elderly couple, young François at last discovers a kind of peace, and can begin to discover the world. Pialat made excellent use of nonprofessional actors—the affectionate old couple essentially play themselves—leading Richard Peña to comment, "these actors inhabit their roles, and their world, in ways rarely achieved in cinema." In Pialat's unique treatment of the theme, as Jean-Pierre Gorin notes in Film Comment, "we are made to experience what is at the core of the foster child's life . . . The pathos of L'enfance nue is all about the zig and the zag of disconnection and thwarted emotions."
Maurice Pialat, France, 1960
Pialat displays a wicked sense of humor allied with his more familiar gift of social observation in this sardonic meditation on suburbia—its neglect and cultural decay—shot in poetic black-and-white.