Maurice Pialat was already in his early forties when he made his epochal debut about a troubled, aggressive foster child bounced from home to home. Michel Terrazon, who plays 10-year-old François with a riveting combination of violence, sullenness, and tenderness, was a nonprofessional called upon to play a childhood quite different from the more stable one he had. Other figures in the film more or less played themselves: the elderly couple who takes him in; the shopkeeper who sells him cigarettes; a number of the childcare professionals we meet as his turbulent story unfolds. “Many filmmakers before and after Pialat tried to reach this level of absolute proximity between fiction and documentary, actor and character, setting and place,” Kent Jones wrote about Naked Childhood—but only he “was able to sustain such a balance throughout an entire film.” 35mm print courtesy of the Institut Français.
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