Francois Truffaut’s unforgettable debut The 400 Blows (1959) is available on MUBI. So also is his final film Confidentially Yours. This delightful murder mystery, based on Charles Williams’ novel The Long Saturday Night, was completed by Truffaut months before his premature death from a brain stroke in 1984.
The light comedy opens with a tracking shot of Barbara on her way to work. She’s being followed by a smitten dog. The canine isn’t the only creature who cannot resist Barbara, played with dimpled charm by Fanny Ardant.
When Barbara’s real estate agent boss Julien (Jean-Louis Trintigant) is accused of murdering a friend and then his wife, Barbara stands up in his defence. In a neat twist to this kind of movie, it’s Barbara who does all the gumshoeing, sometimes putting herself in harm’s way to help her employer. From breaking into an apartment to posing as a sex worker, Barbara is everywhere, even while Julien is largely confined to his office.
Beautifully shot by renowned cinematographer Nestor Almendros in high-key black-and-white tones, the film always has a spring in its step. Almendros lends immense character to cramped interiors and lights the actors’ faces so vividly that even smaller characters are memorable.
Some of the film’s gender politics haven’t aged too well. Perhaps Barbara’s revenge is in joining the dots and often having the last word.