I watched La Nuit américaine (Truffaut, 1973) last night and I’m really going through the motions on it. For a while I was deeply in love with it, the characters, their interrelations, and the constant movement of the camera and set. By the time it was over I still was convinced this would perhaps be one of my favourite films… ten minutes later I was trying to remember exactly what had happened, and my passion for it was really wanning. There are certain filmmakers that draw out this from me, Truffaut is one of them, his own enthousiasm for cinema and youth is painted in every frame but I don’t think that always makes for a great film. It riles me up, but in the end leaves me with not much to hold onto. Was this a great film? I think it was merely a good one… maybe even a mediocre one… It touches on greatness, but moves on too quickly to inhibit it. Often times it reduces itself to straight forward stereotypes that I think are meant to play for laughs, but it’s just not particularly amusing. The characters are too cold, too unhappy, and in a pathetic, flat way for this to play for laughs. I still think it’s enjoyable, and no doubt I don’t remember seeing someone look as beautiful as Bisset onscreen in a long time, but I also can’t help feeling completely empty.
The film isn’t a complete failure though, and from my brief experiences (on a smaller scale but with a similar group dynamic) working on making films, it does a great job portraying the anarchy as well as the solidarity needed to make a film. Every ingredient is necessary, and must be done well to make things work. Truffaut’s own internalized worries have mirrowed my own, and no doubt most filmmakers of the years. I hate to focus so much on the negative because as I said, I think it’s a good film, but having left me dissapointed I couldn’t help harping on the negatives.
I have a total crush on Francois Truffaut though… mmm French.