Confidentially Yours (1983)

“These idiots suspect me. They want to detain me.”

Synopsis:
When the owner (Jean-Louis Trintignant) of a real estate agency is accused of murdering his acquaintance (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) and then his adulterous wife (Caroline Sihol), his plucky secretary (Fanny Ardant) helps him try to gather evidence proving his innocence.

Genres:

Review:
Francois Truffaut’s final film was this disappointing homage to Hitchcock, about a falsely accused man and the resourceful, beautiful woman who puts her life on the line to help prove his innocence. Based on Charles Williams’ pulp crime novel The Long Saturday Night, it strategically hearkens back to mid-century noir (the b&w cinematography by Nestor Almendros is lovely), but with disconcerting humor thrown in, complicating the mood. Murders are committed, and lives are on the line, but we somehow sense that the protagonist and his plucky assistant will emerge unscathed by the end. It’s frustrating to see how badly Trintignant (not exactly a traditional ladies’ man) treats his gorgeous secretary, who maintains an inexplicable loyalty to him throughout the proceedings; I suppose his hard-boiled edge is meant to evoke noir-ish tinges of Bogart, but his utter lack of chemistry with Ardant (who comes across like a bit of a foolhardy ninny) defeats this intent. Worst of all is that the final outcome of the mystery comes out of nowhere, leaving sleuthing viewers with a sense of frustrated defeat.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Nestor Almendros’ cinematography

Must See?
No; this one is strictly for Truffaut completists. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Confidentially Yours (1983)”

  1. Not must-see. I’d seen it once before and didn’t care for it much then, either.

    What I think, overall, is that the film is intended to be light-hearted – even if it does have a murder mystery storyline; it seems evident from the script that this is a self-aware and somehow playful homage. But even though it has good sequences in it – particularly the extended section near the end, in which Ardant goes undercover as a prostitute – it’s just not all that engaging.

    The main problem (for me, anyway) is Ardant. She seems to sometimes be trying her best…but her best is lacking. There is almost a total lack of nuance in her delivery and therefore, as stated, she and Trintignant are woefully without chemistry. Worst of all…there is no indication – ever – from her character that she has any romantic urges toward Trintignant. Either Truffaut was not able to instill such subtlety in Ardant or she was just incapable of producing it.

    It’s also a shame that, although the undercurrent of humor in the film is noticeable – it’s, oddly, not all that effective.

    If anything makes the film compelling, it’s the work of DP Almendros – whose work in film tends to be remarkable anyway. Here, because the film is on the weak side, the camerawork almost takes over as a story character – adding wonderful expression and emotional highlights.

    I know I am rather lacking in enthusiasm when it comes to quite a few Truffaut films. I just feel he so rarely genuinely came up to the plate in creating something memorable. He was an intense film lover and film fanatic – as we all probably know. But it wasn’t often enough that he had the discipline to be a passionate filmmaker…alas.

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