Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me

Based on the novel by Henry Farrell, Une belle fille comme moi (Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me) is the story of a woman who tells a young sociologist about her love affairs and how she was accused of murder which led to her incarceration. Directed by Francois Truffaut and screenplay by Truffaut and Jean-Loup Dabadie, the film is a look into a man who falls for a woman whose stories and claims of being innocent has him lose sight of what she really is. Starring Bernadette Lafont, Claude Brasseur, Charles Denner, Guy Marchand, and Andre Dussollier. Une belle fille comme moi is a zany yet very funny film from Francois Truffaut.

The film is about this woman who tells her story to a young sociologist professor who is doing research for a thesis on criminal women. There, the professor falls in love with this woman as he believes that she is innocent though others believe that she isn’t as he does whatever she can to prove her innocence. It’s a film where its simple premise is presented in the form of a black comedy where the lead character of Camille Bliss (Bernadette Lafont) is really a woman who uses her sexuality and charm to get what she wants where the young professor Stanislas Previne (Andre Dussollier) becomes blinded by her as he does whatever to get her out of prison. Yet, he is unaware that there’s more to Camille’s story about all of the things that has happened to her.

The film’s screenplay has a back-and-forth structure though it starts with a scene where a woman asks a librarian about the thesis that Previne was supposed to publish. It then leads to the main story that happened one year before where Previne interviews Bliss for this thesis as he is amazed by all of these claims she’s made while the stuff that actually happened revealed that Bliss is really a woman who can use her sex appeal to cause trouble. Even as the victims she include are an idiotic mama’s boy, a lounge singer, an attorney, and a good-hearted exterminator who are wowed by her charm. It has a back-and-forth narrative of Bliss telling her story to Previne as well as the events of what really happened where Previne would have his secretary Helen (Anne Kreis) write things down though she really knows that Bliss is a manipulative slut.

Francois Truffaut’s direction is pretty simple in the way he presents the interrogations as well as the scenes involving Bliss and her schemes. Much of it involves some close-up and medium shots where it plays to the intimacy of the interrogations as well as some of the light-hearted moments in the schemes and misadventures of Bliss and her many lovers. Some of it features moments such as Bliss talking about her life as a child where her father kicks her in the ass as the young Bliss flies into a heap of hay. There’s also moments where the comedy is very out there but also with some dark moments to play into the suspense. Especially in the third act where it would climax with Previne trying to prove Bliss’ innocence where it would play into a sense of absurdity and dark humor. Overall, Truffaut creates a very lively and witty film about a sociologist professor who falls in love with a dirty slut.

Cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from its colorful look of the saloon that Bliss worked at as well as some of the exteriors in some of the small-town locations in France. Editors Martine Barraque and Yann Dedet do terrific work with the editing from its approach to rhythms for much of the film‘s humor as well as some of the film‘s suspense. Production designer Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko does nice work with the set pieces from the look of the interrogation room as well as the saloon where Bliss worked at.

Costume designer Monique Dury does fantastic work with the stylish dresses that Camille Bliss wears in many of the film‘s flashbacks that presents her quirky personality. The sound work of Rene Levert does superb work with the sound from the way some of the records that are played being heard to some of the sounds in the film‘s locations. The film’s music by Georges Delerue is amazing for its mixture of somber orchestral pieces to more upbeat themes that is largely led by the banjo as it’s an instrument that Bliss loves to play.

The film’s brilliant cast includes some notable small roles from Martine Ferriere as a prison secretary, Jacob Weizbluth as a mute musician at the saloon, Jerome Zucca as an amateur filmmaker who provides the key to Camille’s fate, Gaston Ouvrard as an old prison warder, and Daniele Girard as the wife of the lounge singer who despises Camille. Philippe Leotard is terrific as the very dim-witted mama’s boy Clovis with Gilberte Geniat as his very suspicious mother. Claude Brasseur is excellent as the lawyer who falls for Camille as he creates some trouble for her while Guy Marchand is superb as the lounge singer Sam Golden who finds a muse in Camille only to get into a lot of trouble.

Charles Denner is fantastic as the exterminator Arthur who falls for Camille while dealing with his own sense of morality over the things that Camille does. Anne Kreis is wonderful as Previne’s secretary who analyzes everything Previne has taped as she is very suspicious about Camille. Andre Dussollier is amazing as the sociology professor Stanislas Previne as a man who becomes infatuated by Camille as he loses all insight of professionalism where he tries to get Camille free from prison. Finally, there’s Bernadette Lafont in a remarkable performance as Camille Bliss as this very mischievous and manipulative woman who uses her sex appeal to get what she wants while proving to be a very creative storyteller as she tries to maintain her innocence though she is really guilty for her actions as it’s a role that is just so fun to watch.

Une belle fille comme moi is a marvelous film from Francois Truffaut that features a very entertaining performance from Bernadette Lafont. The film isn’t just one of Truffaut’s more accessible films but also one of his funniest for the way he allows a woman to outsmart the men she meets and get them to cause trouble. In the end, Une belle fille comme moi is a hilarious 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 - 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 - Confidentially Yours

The Auteur #40: Francois Truffaut (Pt. 1) - (Pt. 2)

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