The next film on the What Else to Watch list of DK Canada’s very enjoyable The Movie Book is this classic Truffaut film from 1980 featuring performances from Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.
It’s the early 1940s in occupied France, and theatres are doing a booming business chasing away the spectre of war. But the theatre Montmarte has problems of its own. It’s owner, Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent) is a Jew, and was believed to have left the country, leaving his wife, Marion (Deneuve) behind to run it in his stead.
In truth he is hiding in the basement, like a phantom, and directing the theatre’s new show, Disappearance, for which a proper leading man, Bernard Granger (Depardieu) has been cast.
As the show goes on, the theatre must deal with critics, thieves, the gestapo, and life, even when the lines between stage and reality become blurred. Granger is a bit of a womaniser, and after a successful opening night it becomes apparent that he and Marion have developed feelings for each other, but are they real, or merely a byproduct of the roles they are playing?
The film looks at life, art, and the stage, and does it against the backdrop of the second World War.
The film takes its time in the telling, letting the characters find their ways, and unfolding like a stage play itself.
While Depardieu and Deneuve share lead credit, this is very much her film, and she is, as always, a stunning watch, as she tries to run the theatre, the show, and come to terms with the emotions surrounding her husband and those for Granger.
The pacing is enjoyable, but it is very much a European film, as an American version would be tighter, and try to have more going on, but the minimalist form of storytelling, relying mostly on emotion and character, very much like the stage play they are producing only works to better the picture.
I’ve never been the biggest Depardieu fan outside of his turn as Cyrano de Bergerac, but he turns in a solid performance in this film, which makes Granger’s actions and his motivations all the more believable.
I rather enjoyed this one, and definitely loved the epilogue, and the way resolutions are played out. It works wonderfully, and is incredibly enjoyable.
Truffaut was a fantastic director, and I hope I come across more of his films in the very near future, as I continue working my way through DK Books’ brilliant The Movie Book.
Pick one up today, and find something amazing to watch!