It used to be two options: live in a major city that busts out the one awful print or download the VHS rip from a dark-web torrent site. No wonder it was only hosannas upon learning the complete corpus of Jean Eustache would get its decades-overdue restoration––on basis of The Mother and the Whore alone it marks a moment in film history.
Janus Films (by extension Criterion) acquired the catalog from Les Films du Losange and begin their series, “The Dirty Stories of Jean Eustache,” this month at Lincoln Center before a larger rollout in weeks, months to come, and with it a trailer for Mother‘s 4K restoration is here. Just the first shot of Jean-Pierre Léaud––who, I feel compelled to note, is enduring hard times and seeking help via friends––completely rewires sense of a movie I’ve loved for a decade. But it’s all in tip-top shape: deep blacks, balanced whites, perceptible grain… not to get so dorky. (In a post about Eustache no less!) It’s good having The Mother and the Whore back, or––for most––finally, at last.
Find preview and poster below:
After the French New Wave, the sexual revolution, and May ’68 came The Mother and the Whore, the legendary, autobiographical magnum opus by Jean Eustache that captured a disillusioned generation navigating the post-idealism 1970s within the microcosm of a ménage à trois. The aimless, clueless, Parisian pseudo-intellectual Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Léaud) lives with his tempestuous older girlfriend, Marie (Bernadette Lafont), and begins a dalliance with the younger, sexually liberated Veronika (Françoise Lebrun, Eustache’s own former lover), leading to a volatile open relationship marked by everyday emotional violence and subtle but catastrophic shifts in power dynamics. Transmitting his own sex life to the screen with a startling immediacy, Eustache achieves an intimacy so deep it cuts.