Review: ‘La Nuit Americaine’

Francois Truffaut turns to filmmaking itself for his story. From the first day's shooting to the last, he mixes comedy and intimations of drama but keeps it mainly a love letter to the cinematic art, more pointedly commercial films.

Francois Truffaut turns to filmmaking itself for his story. From the first day’s shooting to the last, he mixes comedy and intimations of drama but keeps it mainly a love letter to the cinematic art, more pointedly commercial films.

Here are loving observations, charming if familiar characterizations, and an ease in intertwining the story and the film within the story. Witty and avoiding any undue whimsy or self-indulgence, Truffaut plays the director of the film underway and makes it clear this is his life’s love.

There are no highbrow attempts to work in parallels between the film being made and the film the viewer sees. It is just a job.

Jacqueline Bisset is amiable as the American star with her problems of a Hollywood childhood and theatrical mother behind her. Valentina Cortese is remarkable as an aging star who goes on despite a sick son. Jean-Pierre Aumont is charming as the aging leading man who wants to adopt a young man.

The members of the crew are played with engaging candor. Jean-Pierre Leaud, Truffaut’s alter ego in his semi-biog pix, is a sort of spoiled young man who brings on the crises in the film.

1973: Best Foreign Language Film

La Nuit Americaine

France-Italy

Production

Films du Carrosse/PECF/PIC. Director Francois Truffaut; Screenplay Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman; Camera Pierre-William Glenn; Editor Yann Dedet, Martine Barraque; Music Georges Delerue; Art Director Damien Lanfranchi

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1973. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

Jacqueline Bisset Valentina Cortese Dani Alexandra Stewart Jean-Pierre Aumont Jean-Pierre Leaud

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