Archive for August 9th, 2012


by Shubhajit Lahiri


Francois Truffaut, along with his iconic contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette et al, was one of the founding members of the revolutionary French Nouvelle Vague movement. And whenever we mention the name of the former Cashiers Du Cinema critic and renowned French auteur, we either associate him with his first and most famous film, 400 Blows, or his third feature Jules et Jim. But it was his second work – the immensely endearing Shoot the Piano Player – sandwiched between the two universally acclaimed classics, that not only was one of the most defining movies of the New Wave movement, but is also considered by many to be Truffaut’s greatest masterpiece.

Charles Aznavour, a legendary singer/songwriter in real life, gave a terrific performance as Charlie, a once-famous artiste, but now a washed out piano player at a run-down place in Paris. He goes through the motions without any palpable attachment to the world around him. But then, one not-so-fine day, his brother turns up at his place and informs him that two gangsters are after him, and asks him to help him escape. Meanwhile, he slowly finds himself falling for his sweet and captivating co-worker Lena (Marie Dubois). Thus starts a tale of love on the run as the two gangsters start chasing them in order to get hold of Charlie’s brother.

The movie has a strong flashback narrative too. While the present tells us who Charlie is, the past tells us how Edouard Saroyan, a renowned piano maestro, has ended up becoming an unknown honky-tonk player at a bar where nobody cares for his keyboard play. We learn about Charlie’s first love affair, his marriage, how he climbs the ladder to fame, and how his wife’s infidelity (though for Charlie’s sake) makes him loose his attachment with all the niceties of life and love, and turns him into a loner and a morally detached existentialist. (more…)

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