For this wise, beautifully acted, and enormously moving portrait of a trio of lifelong friends at the crossroads of middle age, Claude Sautet recruited three of the leading French stars of their generation—Yves Montand, Michel Piccoli and Serge Reggiani—and also helped nudge the career of Gérard Depardieu into stardom. As the three older men try to vicariously relive their youth through the aspirations of a young professional boxer (Depardieu), the director weaves us through their lives as myriad crises erupt, concessions are made, and time marches on. It ranks among Sautet’s finest contemplations of the human condition.
Vincent François Paul…and the others had its Australian premiere at the 1976 Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals. In Sydney at least it was a last minute addition to the program and there were no notes about it in the catalogue. It has rarely if ever been screened in theatres here since that time. Still, memory says it in Sydney at least filled up the State Theatre and sent the crowd home very happy.
Which is exactly the sentiment the great Roger Ebert recorded when he reviewed it for its first release in the US way back in the day. The first couple of paras of Ebert’s review set this out very precisely.
We walk out of "Vincent, Francois, Paul and the Others" and we think, yeah, that's pretty much the way things are. We don't know whether or not to smile. The movie takes a group of friends in their 40s and observes them for a period of weeks. At the end of that time, we find ourselves recognizing them: They're like friends of ours. They may even be like ourselves.
To begin with, they're always in motion. There's little time for reflection, stock-taking. Marriages break up and there's hardly time for a postmortem before an affair begins. Careers that looked rewarding turn into dead ends. There are money problems. Some of the people they've loved are barely memories, but others leave wounds that will never heal. They have secrets, even from themselves; they feel guilt and remorse and a vague anxiety. They smoke all the time and drink too much, and sometimes they're too tired to sleep at night. And yet this movie about them isn't, finally, depressing. The director, Claude Sautet, doesn't take his slice of French middle class life and turn it into a portrait of despair. These are tough people. They've survived, and they're resilient. They may have abandoned specific ambitions, but they're incapable of giving up hope. These are poor dumb, silly, lovely, doomed, beautiful human beings.
If you wish to read the rest of Ebert’s rave notice then just click here
In some ways this film marks a key moment in Claude Sautet’s career. This is the last film in the Sautet season at the Ritz in which the veterans Yves Montand, Michel Piccoli and Serge Reggiani appear. Henceforth the season concentrates more on the younger talent of the French cinema.
To book tickets for Vincent etc Click here to go to the Ritz website