Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Day for Night" (Language - French) (1973) - Movie Review

François Truffaut’s “Day for Night” finds time for the ant workers dedicated, laborious and loving to work for the film they are shooting. That involves François Truffaut himself playing as a director in this film and how surreal it would have been for him. His films are a desperate attempt to match the life. I have not seen many but of the two before this, I did not become a great fan of his. Yet “The 400 Blows” is a bothering movie having the biting force of reality into the character. He does not try to exaggerate that acerbic quality. If an act of violence, fury or accident happens, there is a reaction time in us to process that it is really happening and in that film it brought that. I could not stand “Fahrenheit 451”, may be because it is far fetched into the future and mundane is not something one would expect of science fiction. In this film, he makes a risky but perfect choice of making a movie about making a movie. Yes, that is exactly what I meant.

In a crowded central town of Paris a camera follows the people but ejects the people from that bush of people it wants to be followed. The props in it becomes a transportation to the next character in the mixed crowd. A bus takes a woman in to the subway stairs and a man comes out of it and he heads to the road when another car takes that to shift us to the final character. Then two of those people collide and out comes “Cut!” and the director wants to do this whole thing again. I did not see any problems with it but he summarizes the extras not coming out at the right time with the proper preference of acting they were asked to do. This is a movie set and we will live through this and many others amongst the crew. We learn a little and lot of every one. And when the shooting wraps, we would be as them mingled and departed.

There are personal problems and troubles, deteriorating confidence and self esteem and a summing cliched but admirable hush hush affairs in the set. One such couple is the young actor Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Leaud) and Liliane (Dani). Alphonse is jealous, possessive and adorably loves Lilianne. Lilianne loves him like a puppy. We do not see her blatantly accepting these jealousy as a turn on but it is the mileage which keeps their relationship running. Of course it has to empty and randomness is the answer to that for Lilianne. For Alphonse, he becomes recluse and learns a valuable lesson about women and a miniscule effort to grow up.

François Truffaut makes sure he covers at least five to six people in a shot individually having a line leading to the next person. Because that is how a movie set will be, questions, doubts, issues and many “logistics”. There is a big expectation and media attention to the arrival of Hollywood actor Julie (Jacqueline Bisset). She had a nervous breakdown and in the subsequent time married the person treating her. “Did you marry your doctor?” asks a journalist in a press conference and she replies “I married a person whom I love who is a doctor”. She is clear and stable.

There are no plots apart from finishing the film and there are twists in the personal disappointments of the people working. A man of comforting presence and understanding is veteran actor Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Aumont). He delightfully welcomes Severine (Valentina Cortese) with whom he has worked in younger years. He is perturbed by his aging while she is self conscious and loses her cool in a shot which is comedic and sad. He is not bothered by the retakes and the self pity his fellow actor is creating. He knows what she is going through and does his best to get the scene smooth. To get an actor like that would be the best thing for a director and François Truffaut shares through the character of Alexandre.

Julie is level headed and knows the life she is leading. When she sees Lilianne unmercifully decides to crush Alphonse, she goes and conveys it to him. And she is concerned when he is ready to leave the place. What happens next crumbles her and she begins to doubt the rejuvenation from the meltdown she had. Yet we are not bothered because we seem to accept this kind of casual arrangements in the arena of film making and the process. But it is so due to the fact of the audience being the peeping tom in their intermingled misery of life and film they see of these actors.

François Truffaut’s film is not for every one. It is not an art house venture either. It is a film for people admiring the movies and laughs knowing the chaos running behind. It is not a surprise but the development in the people it contains is the pleasure in watching this film. He brings voice over sparsely as though there is no time to think in between the crazy schedule and unforeseen issues. His character dreams of a kid walking through a street in the middle of the night. When we see the put together continuous string of that sequence, we know that it is a film made by someone loving the film.

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