Monday, November 03, 2008

Shoot The Piano Player - Truffaut

I have seen many Truffaut films, and always felt him to be less intellectually potent though more heart-felt in his film making than his contemporaries in the New Wave.  It was Godard that transcended the frontiers of the mind, body and soul through the power of his ideas.  But Truffaut acquiesced to emotions, more so than others.  Its as if he had less to prove and thus allowed for the camera to reveal his troubled childhood and prolonged adolescence through wayward images.  

Thats what 400 blows was about and every film after with Antoine Danoiel, his very on screen alter-ego.  But Shoot The Piano Player is something else entirely, again though, with an emotional feeling that is rare within the  hyper-logique and dialogue heavy tendencies of the French.  What turns out , on paper, to be a spoof on american gangster movies, in the end is more a reflection on love and losing your way in the world.

"I can't be in two places at once" is what the lead says to his brother, when asked why it is he is in a beat-up bar playing popular diddies for the masses when he is more deserving of the pomp and celebre his previous concerts received.  The expression and the dignity he leads his life is more important.  He may be down and out, but he plays the piano as the world moves around him meaninglessly, lost and searching he has found himself, with the piano, wherever he may be.  And that comes through.  In the end, after more tragedy, he is back at the piano, whenever things take a difficult turn, the piano, but eventually the piano is to him what the rock was for sisyphus :  a reminder of his own absurdity.   

The french are not as warm as the Italians, nor as cold as the Germans, but more innovative than both when it comes to culture.  But Truffuat does the unlikely, he is able to for fleeting moments, combine a warmth with his heady mindfulness.  
There is something to the kinetic energy of the film, a quickness, that doesn't give way to superficiality.  I don't know how he does it, but the film lingers, you are able to revel in the aesthetic while being moved by the content.  

Why?  After-all its just a film about love and love lost, and succeeding and failing in the world, but then again, isn't that what everything is really about?  But its how you play your tragedy and the humanity you allow in during the inevitable demise.  And your character, this film has that character.

The entire new wave started out as critics for Les Cahiers and what always astounds me is that they made films that are beyond criticism.  I can't imagine anyone saying anything bad about shoot the piano player.  

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