Sunday, August 17, 2008
Shoot the Piano Player (Francois Truffaut, 1960) B
One of the main ways in which Truffaut differed from Godard, another pioneer of the French New Wave techniques, is that, for the most part, Truffaut liked to stick to telling full and complete stories while Godard loved using situations to really explore something else (like the romance in Breathless or the couple's trip to her parents' house in Week End). Shoot the Piano Player is the first Truffaut I've seen that actually feels like it could have been done by Godard. The editing techniques aren't as jarring as something like Breathless; rather, it's how the plot comes second to the wild tangents that the characters seem to go on for minutes at a time that reminded me of Godard. The opening scene in which Charlie' brother is seen talking with a random stranger about women and love has absolutely no barring on the plot whatsoever (other than the fact that he's avoiding the two men after their share of a robbery) and is never mentioned again in the film, but it's still fascinating stuff. I especially loved the scene in which Charlie and Lena are picked up by the two men and their witty banter in the car. Did it move the forward in any way? Probably not, but it's fun, jazzy and everything we love about the French New Wave (or at least I do). Shoot the Piano Player is a pleasant, tasteful, well-made little film, although I just wish there was a little more to get excited about. The ending was absolutely perfect and a nice contrast to The 400 Blows, but that flashback was a little clumsily done and probably could have been tightened up a bit. All in all another solid little gem from one of my favorite directors.