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The Last Metro (2-Disc)
DVD disk
Mar 19, 2009 By: Mathew Plale
The Last Metro (2-Disc) order
Director:
Franois Truffaut

Actors:
Catherine Deneuve
Grard Depardieu
Heinz Bennent

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set in Nazi-occupied Paris, a theatre manager (Deneuve) must keep a play from failing while hiding her Jewish husband (Bennent), falling for the lead actor (Depardieu), and pleasing a bigoted critic (Jean-Louis Richard).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The first thing I say when someone, eh, foreign to foreign cinema asks me to recommend somewhere to start is usually any Franois Truffaut. I might now add but skip The Last Metro.

Thats not to say its a horrible film, but its certainly the French New Wave masters least focused. Unsure whether to make it solely about the Nazis occupation of France during World War II or an intimate look at the theatre scene of that era, or whether to write it as a suspense or a romance or a comedy, Truffaut opts instead for a muddled combination.

The film--a Best Foreign Language Film nominee--stars Catherine Deneuve as Marion Steiner, a Gentile wife who takes over the Montmartre Theatre while her Jewish husband, Lucas (Heinz Bennent), thought to have fled to South America, hides in the basement beneath the stage. She hires actor Bernard Granger (Grard Depardieu, in one of his best roles)--a member of the Resistance--to star in what could be the theatres swan song, Disappearance, which was to be directed by Lucas.

The best moments in The Last Metro come when Lucas decides to ghost-direct the play from the basement, giving directions to Marion in between rehearsals. Its his only way of remaining sane during his isolation, which he spends listening to lies on the radio.

But just when the story is on Lucas, it shifts to Marion and Bernards blossoming and misplaced romance. And when the focus is on the love story, it shifts again to the Nazis control on the streets of Paris. And when the attention is placed on the occupation, it shifts again to a young actresss (Sabine Haudepin) starvation for stardom. And so on and on until every inescapable subplot--the antagonist critic Daxiats (Jean-Louis Richard) stranglehold on the Montmartre, Bernards many attempts to get laid, et al.--is touched upon in what turns out, not surprisingly, to be Truffauts longest--and only bungled--feature.
THE EXTRAS
Disc One:

Audio Commentary by Annette Insdorf: The author of Franois Truffaut provides an in-depth and scholarly track, noting the style, traits, and history of the late filmmaker, the context of The Last Metro, and much more. Insdorf is well-spoken, even if the track is a bit dry.

Audio Commentary by actor Grard Depardieu, historian Jean-Pierre Azema, and Truffaut biographer Serge Toubiana: This second track might be a bit more difficult for some to get through, as the comments from the trio are presented in French with English subtitles. Still, its a solid track with a plethora of information in relation to the film and its historical context.

Disc Two:

Deleted Scene (4:59): This scene, which was reinserted in a 1982 home video release, features a moment between Marion and Valentin.

Interviews: Director Truffaut and stars Deneuve and Depardieu appear on an episode of French television show Les nouveaux rendez-vous (10:46), with the two actors doing much of the talking, while the director discusses the themes and background of the film; Truffaut and actor Jean Poiret, on an episode of Passez donc me voir (6:29), sit down to discuss their films and reflect on the occupation; in Performing The Last Metro (14:55), actors Andra Ferrol, Paulette Dubost, Sabine Haudepin, and second assistant director Alain Tasma happily reminisce about working on Truffauts 1980 film, sharing fond memories about the production; in the newly-recorded Visualizing The Last Metro (9:33), camera assistants Florent Bazin and Tessa Racine discuss working with late cinematographer Nestor Almendros, and the difficulties of achieving the unique look of The Last Metro; finally, in Working with Truffaut (28:05), which is available here in its rare entirety, Oscar-winning cinematographer Almendros (Days of Heaven) sits down for a 1986 interview to discuss his career, techniques, and the traits and influences of Truffaut.

Une histoire deau (12:14) is a 1958 short film--co-directed by Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard--featuring a man and a woman trying to flee a flooded Paris in his car. The film is a great addition to the disc for fans of both French New Wave filmmakers.

Theatrical Trailer.

Also included is a 12-page booklet with an essay titled Truffauts Changing Times by New York Press film critic Armond White.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Though one of Truffaut's most personal films, 1980's The Last Metro is also his least impressive (sans the gorgeous Nestor Almendros cinematography). Still, completists of the director's filmography will be eager to pick up this 2-Disc Criterion Collection DVD, which boasts great packaging, several interviews, and excellent transfers. A Blu-ray is also available.
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