Day For Night (12A)
Starring: Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Léaud
Friday 18 February 2011
The title makes it sound like a heist movie, and in one sense that's what Inside Job is. It's actually a documentary about the financial crisis of 2008, explaining how a small bunch of Wall Street operators robbed their own companies and clients blind, with the difference that, instead of being prosecuted by the government, they were abetted by it. They didn't wear masks and carry guns, because they didn't have to: some of them now occupy senior positions in the US administration and academia. Who says crime doesn't pay?
First seen in 1973, this is Truffaut's valentine to cinema, whose technical processes he clearly delighted in as much as its problems. Most films about film-making tend to be ironic, or baleful, but not this one: Day for Night is watchful yet sweet-tempered, and even rather innocent-minded. Truffaut himself plays the director of a movie called "Meet Pamela", and creates a happy atmosphere on set in Nice – he's no control-freak or prankster (like his idol Hitchcock) but merely a trouble-shooter and a cajoler of talent. "Cinema is king!" he cries at one stage, and his cast and crew respond to his benign instruction like a party of eager schoolchildren – his romantic fool of a leading man (Jean-Pierre Léaud), his kindly, fragile lead actress (Jacqueline Bisset, green-eyed, graceful, never lovelier), his pert young assistant (Nathalie Baye). There's a funny cameo by a recalcitrant feline ("Find me a cat who can act") and a curious, unrevealing one by the writer Graham Greene as a financial backer. If there's a fault, you could cite a lack of real drama; despite an on-set fling and an off-stage death, the emotional temperature never rises above an amiable mildness. But Truffaut's intense affection for his art and his people still touches, and makes you mourn for a talent that departed – aged 52 – much too early.
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