François Truffaut – La Sirène du Mississipi AKA Mississippi Mermaid (1969)

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Mississippi Mermaid is a rich and tropical amalgam of the post-war French fascination with the great American tradition of gritty urban thrillers and Francois Truffaut’s growing yearnings for settings more and more dystopian and exotic. Viewed today, the film remains a fascinating exploration of the major themes essayed by movie melodramas of betrayal – a sort of distillation of the amoral nucleus of Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) and the wilder settings of Key Largo (John Huston, 1948). Then there’s the added star presence of those great faces of the New Wave: Jean-Paul Belmondo, still carrying the cinematic baggage of his Bogey-obsessed and murderous madcap in À bout de souffle/Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), and Catherine Deneuve who would soon become the model for Marianne – the face that represents France for each new generation. It’s a heady, steamy brew! –Jonathan Dawson





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