10 January 2004 | snucker
i really liked this one
this film is excellent. it's a quiet film where the plot moves slowly, but it doesn't matter. it takes place during the occupation of france of world war II. i don't know how truffaut can do this, he makes films that on paper sound melodramatic and silly, but are feel truly real and sincere without being overly depressing. and this is one of them. i don't know a lot about the german occupation of france during WWII, but its presence is certainly in the film you marion buying an expensive ham under the black market, the blackouts, the talks of hiding in subways and the oppressive and communual presence of the germans. but it's not the focal point of the film. it's about people trying to live normally under stressful situations. their lives are not centered around the war, but around surviving with what they value (their theatre) intact.
it's thoughtful enough to not type-cast its characters based on how they feel about the war and their political positions. a lot of the characters are pragmatic about their situation, such as the director of the play (jean-loup is his name i think) who opposes the germans, but is willing to consider selling the theatre to Daxiat (a powerful pro-german journalist)to save it. all of the crew dislike Daxiat, but treat him with relative respect so that they can keep their theatre running. Daxiat isn't painted as a completely horrible enemy, but was a man who really looked out for the best interests of the theatre company despite the fact that his political views were opposite of those he admired in the theatre company. the people in this film felt real, cuz ideally, we'd all like to think that when faced with oppression from an outside force, we'd be kicking and screaming all the way until we're free of oppression. but in reality, most of us would probably make compromises and do things against our principles to keep what is most important to us (in this case, it's the theatre and its company for the characters here)
in a way, the film reminded me of wong kar wai's in the mood for love in terms of what it does with its characters. it progresses steadily without a lot of major plot points, and it lets you get to know the characters and let them be real, so you never feel bored at how slow things progress. the characters are well written and well acted so that you care deeply about them.
*comments on the ending up ahead*
there is very little that feels staged and over dramatic, and the outcome seems to progress beautifully and quietly. and i don't know what it is about the ending, but i felt strangely uplifted when the credits rolled.