La nuit américaine (Day For Night)

Day for night

 

“Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” Early in the film, director Ferrand, played by François Truffaut, says this in a voice-over of ‘Day for Night’. A lot of the film illustrates this point. We are on the set of ‘Meet Pamela’.  ‘Meet Pamela’ is a love and revenge story, about a man falling in love with daughter-in-law. We get to know the cast and crew of ‘Meet Pamela’.  Julie Baker(Jacqueline Bisset), a second generation Hollywood star whose nervous breakdown she’s recovering from causes insurance problems; Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud),a very jealous, very neurotic French actor who’s so madly in love with a girl he organizes the job of the script for her just to have her near; Alexandre(Jean-Pierre Aumont), a veteran actor who played many lovers in his life, but is actually a closet homosexual;  Severine (Valentina Cortese), an Italian actress with an alcohol problem who used to play opposite Alexandre frequently in her career, but hasn’t talked to him in years.
It is a film about making a film. It is also one of Truffaut’s most personal films. Day for Night” is Truffaut’s fondest, most compassionate film, and although it is packed with references to films and film people (Welles, Vigo, Fellini, Buñuel, among others), it’s not a particularly inside film. Bisset as Julie gives the film a bit of real heart as the one character who has something of a life beyond movies. Cortese is a treat, with both her sweetness and her lighter moments. Jean-Pierre Léaud is outstanding as selfish, spoiled Alphonse. Truffaut himself played the role of the director with a lot of confidence. “Day for Night” is an ensemble movie, showing how the many kinds of people on a film set surmount the many minor crises inherent in film-making.

 

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