“so sweet and touching a love letter to Hitchcock“
I’ve got such a list of films that I haven’t made notes on that I’m having to rattle through them at great speed. I’m not even going to mention Jules et Jim, which I saw recently and again at the weekend. I think I’ve got the balance right but I do find my notes useful, so it’s a shame. I saw Jules et Jim because speciality French movie channel CineMoi had advertised a showing of Vivement Dimanche! but decided to show the 1962 classic instead. I started watching and couldn’t stop but I couldn’t help being miffed as I’d missed the chance to see the one Truffaut that I haven’t seen and don’t own and then a little digging revealed that I do own it! It was released in Australia as Confidentially Yours, though having seen the film I can’t see why, and was part of a box set I picked up some years back. So, I got to see a Truffaut double-bill. “Who’s the Daddy now?”
This is smashing. It is Truffaut working through his Alfred Hitchcock fixation (the Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews make fantastic reading) by making a perfectly-executed homage. This being a (pseudo) Hitchcock it revolves around a man who is accused of a crime that he may or may not have committed and his attempts to elude the authorities for long enough to clear his name. It’s suspension-of-disbelief time of course, this is a film where the police have set up road-blocks and search the city for a man who is sat comfortably in his office which they’ve neglected to check. But it doesn’t matter, the film is so sweet and touching a love letter to Hitchcock that you can let anything go.
Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the innocent victim of circumstances- by turns confused, afraid and indignant- with the glorious Fanny Ardant as the secretary who is secretly in love with him and does his investigating for him whilst he is ensconced in the office (a nice nod to Rear Window). Both are excellent and their chemistry is lovely to watch.
But it’s the Hitchcock motifs that matter the most. The film is immediately suspenseful from the shooting of Massoulier which opens and is undercut throughout with a tense string soundtrack which is tremendously reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s best. There are images of telephones ringing in empty rooms, scenes shot from outside through windows, the first person the couple suspect is dramatically revealed to be a Priest, Fanny Ardant’s Barbara zips from city to city looking or clues, she witnesses a murder but can only see the murderer’s legs, the audience is manipulated to believe then disbelieve then rebelieve in Trintignant’s character…
I don’t believe that this focusing upon the Hitchcock angle is doing the film down at all, it is certainly a tense but enjoyable thriller in its own right and the reverence it shows for the Godfather of all modern thrillers is a strength. There is also a brief reference to Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory– a film which was once banned in France- and, as this was to be Truffaut’s last film it is almost as if he is saying goodbye and expressing his thanks to great filmmakers from before. Like when Bob Dylan played ‘Song For Woody’ at his 40th Anniversary tribute concert.
It’s far from flawless but I loved it. Can’t wait to see it again. 7/10