Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shoot the Piano Player

Charlie was a once successful concert pianist who now plays in an out of the way dive in Paris. One day his ne'er-do-well brother comes stumbling into the joint, asking for his help in eluding two con men he's double crossed. Now mixed up in this mess, the reticent Charlie must ward off the bumbling crooks while protecting his kid brother Fido and romancing the beautiful cocktail waitress Lena. "Shoot the Piano Player" was legendary director Francois Truffaut second outing, and was one of the early film's of the French New Wave, clearly having been inspired by recent American crime pictures of the time. The film is a remarkable free flowing work, veering seamlessly from comedy to tragedy to romance to slapstick and back around again. Charles Aznavour is great in a dour performance as Charlie, playing a character who strongly resembles Truffaut. Marie Dubois is very beautiful and affecting as the cocktail waitress who has long had Aznavour's eye and Daniel Boulanger and Claude Mansard are an absolute hoot as Ernest and Momo, the bungling criminals. In trying to gauge my responses to this movie, I realized I had run the gamut. In this visually beautiful film, Truffaut has constructed a wild genre mashup that is simultaneously funny, touching, and seemingly effortless.