Sunday, September 24, 2023

THE LAST METRO (François Truffaut, 1980, France)


A Jewish playwright is forced to hide in the dank underground of his own theatre, and he directs his play listening to echoes and whispered secrets as his wife drifts farther away into her double life. Director François Truffaut creates a play within a play within a film, and the love triangle reflects this deep masquerade, as the characters must act out their parts to survive, losing themselves in the brutal nexus of fiction and reality. 

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, an Anti-Semitic critic vomits his propaganda through the media and attempts to gain control of the Montmartre Theatre and its beautiful owner, the gentile wife of the “missing” playwright. The gorgeous Catherine Deneuve imbues Marion Steiner with a fiery inner strength and charm, an independent woman torn between her husband and the new actor Bernard Granger, a rock-solid performance by Gerard Depardieu. Granger is a member of the Resistance and uses his talent to secret information and contraband to his cohorts, his egotistic façade hiding his true political motivations. But soon Bernard can no longer hide his anger at the inane verbiage spouted by Daxiat and his actions threatens the company and his own life by revealing his true colors: blue, white, & red. Lucas directs the play through a proxy and the play THE VANISHING LADY is a huge success…but the two leads begin to love and despise one another. 

Truffaut is concerned with the faces hidden under the makeup and shadowed by stage light and seeks to uncover the hidden agendas and aspirations of human nature, using the play set amidst our violent history as a metaphor concerning the value of art imitating life. His characters all hide behind some barrier: a dank cement wall, the social graces of high society, or the idol banter of male egotism. THE LAST METRO is filmed in glorious saturated colors, giving the film itself a stage-like atmosphere, which further confuses the senses. As the film ends and reconciliations are made, Truffaut cuts to life as an act, seeking truth through the paradigm of Art. 

Final Grade: (B+)