“These idiots suspect me. They want to detain me.”
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.
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
No; this one is strictly for Truffaut completists. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.