Shoot the Piano Player (2 Discs) (Criterion Collection) (S) (Widescreen) product details page

Shoot the Piano Player (2 Discs) (Criterion Collection) (S) (Widescreen)

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Shoot the Piano Player may be fluffier than the two better-known François Truffaut masterpieces that surrounded it (The 400 Blows (1959) and Jules and Jim (1962)), but it probably captures the essence of the French New Wave -- particularly its obsession with American B-movies -- as well as any film from the movement. The fastest and funniest of the New Wave classics, it veers wildly in tone, boldly mixing elements of several American genres -- including film noir (it's based on prominent pulp author David Goodis' pseudonymous novel -Down There), slapstick comedy, and the musical -- with Truffaut's distinctive melancholy realism. Appropriately, Truffaut's style matches his scrambled content; this is probably his most experimental film, making expressive use of a variety of cinematic devices (hand-held shots, jump cuts, split screens, location shooting), giving the film an exhilaratingly loose feel. What little storyline exists is dominated by eccentric digressions and false leads; in fact, a major part of the film's charm is that it sometimes feels as if Truffaut is making up the story as he goes along. It might not have held together had legendary singer/songwriter Charles Aznavour not turned in a brilliantly subtle lead performance as the lovable pianist Charlie. Aznavour keeps the film grounded, enabling Truffaut to pull off a quietly shattering ending. Mark Pittillo, All Movie Guide