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Our review of the documentary Patrick Dewaere, my hero: the child of misfortune on France 5


Patrick Dewaere in F… like Fairbanksby Maurice Dugowson, in 1976. 1976 Gaumont – Camera One – France 3 Cinema

CRITICAL – The director Alexandre Moix extracts himself from the myth of the genius broke in full youth to go back, thanks to unpublished archives, to the origins of the evil which has not ceased to gnaw at the actor, until his suicide at the age 35 years old. Patrick Dewaere, my hero, a new documentary not to be missed, this Friday October 21 at 9 p.m. on France 5.

It happens that we mourn the illusions with as much despair as the dead. For a long time, until at least her majority, Lola Dewaere cried a chimera. This man she didn’t know, whom she didn’t understand, who “leaded the head” to free himself, he said, from “all the shit that was inside”. For a long time, Lola resented her father for having put an end to her life when she was only two and a half years old and no doubt at herself for not having succeeded in offering her a reprieve, a few years of more to pull from an existence so soon screwed up.

Rimbaud character

“What man were you? Some say you ate life. Others that you were a desperate man. Who to believe?”she wonders in the preamble to Patrick Dewaere, my hero, a wonderful documentary by Alexandre Moix presented on the Croisette last May in the Cannes Classics selection. It is the third film, the most intimate and the most successful, that the director devotes to the actor. The most moving too, because it is based on the need of a daughter to reconstitute the image of this father, to bring together the scattered pieces of a puzzle. Because he delves above all into the sources of the evil that made Dewaere such a fragile and incandescent being.

A Rimbaldian character who could not imagine consuming his art without consuming himself, to use the words of Brigitte Fossey. The actress knew Patrick Dewaere well. When he was at the height of his glory, in the time of the waltzers by Bertrand Blier, but also in its darkest period. She gave him the cue in A bad son of Claude Sautet, in which he embodied, without composing, alas, a drug addict. But it’s a child, as she plays in The Joyful Road, that she discovers little Patrick. He is an extra in this Gene Kelly film, not by taste, but by necessity. Like his four brothers and his sister, the youngest, he was pushed very early on the boards and sets by his mother, Mado Maurin, and her second husband, Georges Collignon. A mother who runs the stamps for her children even if those, it is the case of Patrick, do not want to make the actor. Stamps that the couple is careful to donate to their offspring.

SEE ALSO – Patrick Dewaere: The tragic novel of an icon of French cinema

boy of shame

In one of the six unpublished archives, treasures found by Alexandre Moix from former film critics like Marc Esposito or Bernard Ales, the actor confides in this mother he hated, to the point of hitting her and being kicked out of his house at the age of 18. A mother who had not seen fit to tell him that he was the fruit of adultery. The boy of shame. He will learn it from one of his brothers with whom he was constantly in competition. A mother who failed to protect him from repeated abuse by a pedophile. In her commentary, Lola, who sometimes appears on screen, expresses her anger at these culpable and so destructive silences.

The origin of Patrick Dewaere’s violence is there, in the recesses of childhood. It makes him the living skinned of French cinema. Besides, he was acting in Black sequencefilm in which he seemed endlessly “at the limit of the accident”, to use the words of Bertrand Blier. As if he felt the urge to expel his truth after so many lies. “Patrick was not an actor (…). He was himself”, remembers Francis Huster whose friendship with Dewaere was tied on the benches of the school of the rue Louvois, in Paris. For Jean-Jacques Annaud, who chose him for Headbutt when they imposed on him Gérard Depardieu, the actor “offered his bloody heart, his sadness, his despair, his anger, that was his wealth”. But also, this film shows it so well, its curse.

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