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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Day For Night (1973)



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Francois Truffaut's best films have a wonderful, unique feel to them. He puts reality on film but gives it a lyrical quality, and the result is something that feels real, yet enchantingly unreal.

This describes Day For Night perfectly. It's about the making of a lesser film than Day For Night by a lesser director than Francois Truffaut, who cast himself in the role. Not unlike Robert Altman's Nashville and Short Cuts, plot threads weave in and out and around the cast and crew of the film-within-the-film.

It's rare for the world of the movies to see itself with an honest eye -- movies in movies are either too glamorous or too cynical. It's akin to the psychological theory that one can be objective about anything except oneself. Yet Day For Night is absolutely honest, or at least feels that way. Life is neither more grand or more desolate on the set, just maybe a bit more jumbled. But while life itself may not be inherently more interesting on a movie set than off it, this portrayal of it is fascinating. I've always thought that humanity is best studied out of its element: by transplanting human nature to a foreign environment and observing what is the same, we notice it and learn from it rather than taking it for granted as a simple quality of what is around us every day.

Day For Night does exactly this. A movie set, as we see in the film, is inherently unnatural: yet we might as well be watching ourselves in the cast and crew, for their lives are either ours or those of people we know.