The best quote from this film comes from Pialat himself, playing the father in the film he played father to:
Roughly, "All of us desire to be loved, but only a select privileged few are actually truly capable of loving. You are not one of them." This is what he tells Bonnaire who plays his daughter. Pialat was reportedly very in love with Sandrine Bonnaire from the moment he serendipitously cast her instead of her sister for the lead role.
Pialat's films are tough to get good prints of in the US. Fortunately this one is of of his masterpieces and is available from Criterion in stunning transfer quality.
I had the privilege of seeing "Nous Ne Virillions Pas Ensemble" on a film print at the Dryden Theater in Rochester, NY a few years back. His technique does not patronize the viewer as he uses very few traditional film mechanisms - the films predominantly lack things like music scoring, edit dissolves to imply a lapse in time, or establishing shots. You are at the mercy of the characters you are watching and the situations they are in to pick up on a moment that you are abruptly thrown into which could take place a year down the road from the scene you just cleanly cut from.
But it works. The best filmmakers in history all had their muses, so much that the cinema has developed an almost mythological phenomena - a feminine Hollywood-like dream of a young woman discovered/plucked from an ordinary life and thrust into the passions of a brilliant director (something David Lynch deconstructs so brilliantly in "Mullholland Drive"). Sandrine Bonnaire became yet another a building block in that myth back in the 80s.
We do want to all be loved, and Pialat was certainly no exception - so if this film was the fruit of his passions, judge for yourself whether he is one of the privileged few with the ability to love another. Regardless, I love this film, and it isn't easy. So much so that I can't even give it 5 stars.