Saturday, December 13, 2014
Based on the novel The Long Saturday Night by Charles Williams, Vivement dimanche (Confidentially Yours) is the story of an estates agent who is accused of murder during a hunt as his secretary tries to defend him despite her belief that he is guilty. Directed by Francois Truffaut and written by Truffaut, Jean Aurel, and Suzanne Schiffman, the film is a look into a man whose life starts to fall apart through all sorts of accusations as he is forced to team up with the one person who couldn’t stand him in what is Truffaut’s final film. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Fanny Ardant. Vivement dimanche is a truly glorious and whimsical film from Francois Truffaut.
When a real estates agent learns he’s being accused of killing a man during a hunt as his wife is also killed, he turns to his secretary for help despite the fact that he fired her as she reluctantly helps though she thinks he is guilty. Along the way, several revelations come to ahead when the secretary Barbara (Fanny Ardant) believes that her boss Julien Vercel (Jean-Louis Trintignant) might be telling the truth as it relates to his marriage as well as aspects about his wife. Since Julien is already a fugitive as he is forced to hide out in his own office, it forces Barbara to do the investigation where Julien would eventually help out as they deal with false leads and other things.
The film’s screenplay does play like a whodunit in some respects when it’s really about two people who don’t like each other as they’re forced to work together. Though the outcome into the development of their relationship is obvious, it does manage to be quite fulfilling since Barbara knows that Julien might be telling the truth. Even as she goes on trips to Nice to find out about his wife where it becomes clear that there’s other people doing similar investigations where there’s several people involved that might have something to do with these murders that Julien is accused of. While Barbara may be the driving force of the story as she does a lot to uncover the truth, Julien is an equal part as he is a man that knows he is flawed and despises his wife but he isn’t a killer. Even as he is seen as a guilty man because of the fact that the man who was killed is revealed to having an affair with Julien’s wife.
Francois Truffaut’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of its look where it definitely harkens to an old school feel of 1960s European cinema yet it manages to feel quite vibrant. While many of the compositions in terms of close-ups and medium shots are simple, they have this sense of energy in the way Truffaut presents these shots. Especially in the scenes involving Barbara and Julien in how they interact and work together. Truffaut’s approach to tracking shots as well as in getting the camera to capture the two characters into a scene are quite compelling where it starts off with either Julien and Barbara being dominant towards one another. Once the film progresses as the mystery unfolds with some elements of humor, the two become equal as does their relationship. While there’s also moments where the fourth wall is broken, it plays into how unveiling of the mystery as Truffaut isn’t afraid to put style over substance into a suspense film with bits of humor and romance. Overall, Truffaut creates a very entertaining yet witty film about a secretary helping her boss prove his innocence.
Cinematographer Nestor Almendros does exquisite work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its usage of stylish lights for some of the film’s nighttime exteriors as well as some of the interior scenes at a nightclub where Barbara would go to in a key scene in its third act. Editor Martine Barraque does excellent work with the editing as it definitely plays into an array of styles from jump-cuts, transition wipes, dissolves, and other styles to create something that feels whimsical and fun. Production designer Hilton McConnico does brilliant work with the look of the office that Julien and Barbara works at as well as Julien‘s posh home and the nightclub where Barbara would enter to find some key clues.
Costume designer Michele Cerf does wonderful work with the costumes in the clothes that Barbara would wear from a stage costume to some of the clothes she would wear where she pretends to be a hooker. The sound work of Pierre Gamet and Jacques Maumont is superb for some of the sound effects that occurs for some of the film‘s suspense including a key scene where sounds from Stanley Kubrick‘s Paths of Glory is used as it‘s playing in a movie theater. The film’s music by Georges Delerue is amazing for its mixture of playful orchestral music with some eerie pieces to play into its suspense along with lush pieces for its romance and humor.
The film’s fantastic cast include some notable small roles from Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko as a Slavic wanting to become a French citizen, Pascale Pellegrin as a woman Barbara interviews to be her replacement, Castel Casti as a taxi driver from Nice, Georges Koulouris as a private detective Barbara meets who is also investigating a case on Julien’s wife, and Anik Belaubre as a mysterious cashier at a movie theater whom Barbara and Julien believe is connected with the victim. Jean-Louis Richard is terrific as a mysterious nightclub owner whom Barbara sees in Nice and later in the town she and Julien live in while Caroline Sihol is wonderful as Julien’s wife Marie-Christine as this woman who constantly cheats on her husband as she hides a mysterious past. Xavier Saint-Macary is excellent as the photographer Bertrand who constantly shoots photos of events as he’s also a stage actor that Barbara is working with.
Philippe Morier-Genoud is superb as a chief inspector who leads the case as he immediately suspects Julien over the murders. Jean-Pierre Kalfon is brilliant as this mysterious man that Barbara and Julien suspect as he is connected to one of the murdered victims. Philippe Laudenbach is amazing as Julien’s lawyer Clement who initially defends him but later tries to get him to do things that Barbara doesn’t agree with. Finally, there’s Jean-Louis Trintignant and Fanny Ardant in incredible performances in their respective roles as Julien and Barbara. Trintignant brings a sense of humility to his performance as a man frustrated with his life and marriage as he copes with what happened as there’s also bits of humor in his performance. Ardant brings a sense of charm and energy to her role as Barbara as this secretary who reluctantly helps her boss as well as display something quite playful. Trintignant and Ardant have this chemistry that is very electric in the way they despise each other but also manage to have some attraction towards one another as they’re major highlights of the film.
Vivement dimanche is a remarkable film from Francois Truffaut that features phenomenal performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Fanny Ardant. The film is a suspense-comedy that features a lot of tropes of Truffaut’s finest works as well as a sense of style that is just engaging to watch. Since this is the last film that Truffaut would make in his lifetime, he at least creates a film that manages to be an absolute winner. In the end, Vivement dimanche is a sensationally rich film from Francois Truffaut.
Francois Truffaut Films: The 400 Blows - Shoot the Piano Player - Jules & Jim - Antoine & Colette - The Soft Skin - Fahrenheit 451 - The Bride Wore Black - Stolen Kisses - Mississippi Mermaid - The Wild Child - Bed and Board - Two English Girls - Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me - Day for Night - The Story of Adele H. - Small Change - The Man Who Loved Women - The Green Room - Love on the Run - The Last Metro - The Woman Next Door
The Auteur #40: Francois Truffaut (Pt. 1) - (Pt. 2)
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