Friday, June 12, 2015

661. Le dernier metro/The Last Metro (1980)

Running Time: 128 minutes
Directed By: Francois Truffaut
Written By: Jean-Claude Grumberg, Suzanne Schiffman, Francois Truffaut
Main Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Heinz Bennent, Jean Poiret, Andrea Ferreol
Click here to view the trailer

Note: So we had a power failure here a few weeks back and when the power surged, trying to come back on, our air conditioner went KAPUT! Long story short, it's been miserably hot around here and when it's miserably hot, movie watching is not at the forefront of my mind. I actually started Truffaut Week on Wednesday, with my watching of The Last Metro, but just got the motivation today to get in here and write the review. Anyway, just wanted to bring everyone up to speed on my delays. Let's get to it...


I am fully aware that this is not the first Francois Truffaut film in THE BOOK. I'll be watching his films out of order, for those of you playing the home game. I had this and still have "Day for Night" here, from Netflix, as they were both on a "very long wait" and thus moved to the top of my queue, so that I'd get them as soon as they became available. So "Day for Night" will be next and then I'll probably tackle the last three chronologically.

So this is technically Truffaut's swan song as far as BOOK movies go and in reality, it's often considered to be his actual swan song, because although he made two more movies after this, they apparently paled in comparison to this one, starring Deneuve and Depardieu. The film takes placed during World War II, the Nazi's occupying Paris and Jews forced into hiding, lest they be captured and placed in concentration camps. A famous Jew, Lucas Steiner (Bennent), a theater director, has fled to South America, leaving the stage in the hands of his wife, Marion (Deneuve). It just so happens that a new play that Lucas selected prior to his fleeing is in the beginning stages of production, with Marion and Lucas Steiner's right hand man, Jean-Loup Cottins (Poiret), heading up the casting, the rehearsals and ultimately the opening of a new play called Disappearance. What no one knows, however, is that Lucas Steiner hasn't really fled anywhere, except for the cellar, located underneath the Theater Montmartre - the theater that he and Marion own. From underneath the floor boards, Lucas listens to rehearsals, giving Marion daily notes, so that she can take them back to Cottins, perfecting his play without ever seeing his cast (save for his wife, who is cast as the female lead). Meanwhile, a war rages on outside, but a war of a smaller scale rages on inside, as the cast of Disappearance have their own quarrels, with Bernard Granger (Depardieu) cast as the male lead, a womanizer who is no stranger to the stage.

It's got to be AT LEAST ninety degrees in here right now, if it's not a hundred. I'm coping better than I did yesterday though, especially for someone who grew up a couch potato, not used to extreme heat and not used to life without AC. Anywhoo...where were we? Oh yes, my first Truffaut movie! Well, not really. I have seen Jules and Jim once before and....well, that's it and honestly, I barely remember that one. So unofficially, we'll go ahead and refer to this as my first Truffaut and I have to say he didn't make a very good first impression. Let's see if I can bash Truffaut, without pissing off fans of his, who will surely find this and tear into me if I'm too rough on the famous French director. In fact, I don't wish to bash him at all. I guess I just got something that I didn't bargain for. I expected much more dialogue, character interaction, relationship-y stuff, marital spats, the types of themes that would later influence Woody Allen. Perhaps I made up those expectations and if so, that's my fault. What I got was actually a pretty detailed story about the Nazi occupation of Paris, set in the 40s and dealing with a serious subject while keeping everything light and sometimes even funny. Am I way off base by saying that this reminded me of M*A*S*H, in that I felt like this whole movie could've been spun off as a television show. I could totally see an entire series (probably comedy, maybe drama) based on the Theater Montmartre, the Steiner's and the rest of the cast, all while trying to avoid being caught by Nazi officials and all taking place in the uncertain world of War. End every episode with Marion going down to the cellar to confer with Lucas and have the big series finale be Lucas finally revealing that he's been in the cellar the entire time and yada yada yada, this could write itself.

In all seriousness though, I didn't really care for this. Seriously, who told Catherine Deneuve that she was drop dead gorgeous and began casting her as such? I mean, I know I'm in the minority here, but I find her not very attractive at all. I dig her style, but her looks leave a lot to be desired, at least as far as I'm concerned. The whole movie plodded along okay I guess, but I was barely an hour in before I was looking at the clock, wondering when I'd be done. I just couldn't settle in and usually I'm all for Nazi type stuff, but this did nothing for me. Perhaps my expectations for my initial Truffaut were way too high, thus ruining my whole experience. If that's the case, then a revisit to this one someday is in order, but for now we'll call it about average, with my prediction being that most will actually take to this and have very nice things to say about Truffaut's 1980 offering. One last thing though - why was this called The Last Metro? I swear I'm not being intentionally stupid here, but I just didn't get the title and how it all related to life inside the Theater Montmartre. Anybody?

RATING: 5/10  And that's a movie worthy of being cut right down the middle if I ever saw one, with positives and negatives balancing the scales pretty dead even.


June 12, 2015  5:54pm


  1. Oh dear.. I really want to encourage your return with some inteligent or at least interesting replies.
    But I'm afraid this isn't one I can find something valid to say..
    I've pretty much forgotten it
    I will admit I'm not a great Deneuve fan either

    1. I can completely understand forgetting this one Ray. Quite forgettable actually...

  2. The title refers to the last train that theatergoers could take for the night before their curfew during the Nazi Occupation. I guess it represents the risk people will take for art and some semblance of normality. As for Catherine Deneuve, I certainly wouldn't kick her out of bed! I liked this movie, especially with the context of Day for Night.

    1. Man, it really hasn't been THAT long and already I kind of forget this one. I see you recently watched it and enjoyed it, so good on you for getting something out of it that I obviously didn't.

      I (more) recently saw Deneuve in Tristana and liked her a bit more, but I still just don't get it.


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