Saturday, August 02, 2008
Une Belle Fille comme moi
Since buying the box set of Francois Truffaut from Japan about 3 years ago I have not managed to watch more than 1 or 2 of the films. The reason why i bought it from Japan is that it is the only place it is available from. A bit strange considering he is one of France's prized directors from the era.
But I decided to lob one in one my lunch break today and I remembered why I love his movies so much. There are only a few I haven't seen and this was one.
Une belle fille comme moi - was the title, translated as "A Gorgeous Bird Like Me".
For Truffaut it has more than the usual amount of humour, akin to "Bed and Board" (Domicile conjugal) so this must have been his comedy period.
Saying that there is always an element of humour in most FT movies, but the cartoon cinematography of parts of this particular film set it apart from his other works.
The basic plot of the story is based around the lead character Camille Bliss played by Bernadette Lafont (still very much active and starring in 'Broken English' ). She is introduced as a bit of a slutty village girl who knows how to use her charms to get what she wants after being accused of murdering her drunken abusing father by removing his ladder when he is looking for wood in a garage attic.
A socialogist, Stanislas Prévine, goes to prison to start a thesis about 'Ciminal Women' and Camille is his first study. Despite protests from the prison warders, that she is just a 'hussy' and other murderers may have more intersting stories he persists in interviewing Camille.
Camille then begins to tell her life story. The interviews with Stanislas are intercut with the reality of what happened and also with Stanislas and his secretary Helene typing up the thesis. Helene becomes very jealous of Camille as she is in love with Stanislas and repeatedly persuades him that she is just a common whore.
During these sesions we find out that Camille had various lovers who she seduces. Her first, Clovis, a simple country boy who lives with his mother. She then goes on to marry Clovis just to annoy his Mother (who she eventually murders).
Then Sam Golden, a R&B bar star who she sleeps with whilst married to Clovis to annoy her husband and also to try to succeed at singing which she is not that good at. Following this affair is Marchal the lawyar who tried to help her after Clovis is run down in a car accident. He then sleeps with her after promising a lot of compensation but only to blackmail her later with adultery to help Clovis. And finally Arthur the 'pest killer'. A succesful religious man who willingly parts with his money to help Camille in any way. The one character in her life who doesn't seem to want to get into her pants. Confused by this she forces him to. The reaction to this encounter is that Arthur wants to top himself and asks Camille to join him in jumping of a cathedral roof. She obviously refuses.
As the interviews proceed Stanislas quickly falls for Camille and brings her various gifts. She becomes more and more flirtatious with her interviewer and even though she reveals more and more about her 'femme fatale' character the socialologist falls for her more and more and decides he wants to free the woman he loves as his attraction to her has made him believe she is innocent.
Eventually he finds a way to provide the courts with the evidence thay need to quash the conviction. A small film-fanatic child who had filmed the 'murder' of "Arthur the exterminator" which put her away. It turns out to be a suicide. The child Jerome seems to be vary much based on Truffaut himself as he refuses repeatedly to show the film as it hadn't yet been edited.
Eventually Stanislas and his secreatary convince the small child to show the film and they see that Camille did not push Arthur from the Cathedral walls.
We then see Camille freed and quickly Stanislas visiting her in a theatre using her less than talented voice as more jovial than vocal entertainment. But Stan seems to miss the plot yet again and brings her flowers night after night until she brings him home to her appartment where he almost beds the lead lady.
Clovis returns, a fight ensues and Stanislas is knocked out. Camille shoots Clovis and places the weapon in the unconscious hands of the socialologist. He is then imprisoned.
Stanislas's lawyer comes to visit him in prison and they come up with a plan. He suddenly remembers a piece of evidence which could convict her for the murder of Clovis' Mother. But instead of the blackmail that they plot it backfires on him again as Camille 'charms' the Lawyer and they together have the house destroyed.
The film ends with Camille visiting the smitten Stanislas in prison and telling him how prison could help him. He always wanted a book published. Prison helped her get her singing career and maybe prison could help him in the same way. Ironic ending as the beginning of the movie we see a woman asking in a Library "Do you have a copy of Criminal Wamen - It's a Sociological thesis?" - " No it was never printed - No idea why."