Day for Night

Truffaut gives us a behind-the-scenes romantic comedy in which the love interest is moviemaking. Every love affair must have its complications, and so the production-within-the-production is plagued by accidents, erotic misadventures, and wayward performers, including an alcoholically forgetful diva, an imported ingénue not quite over her nervous breakdown, and an uncooperative kitten-plus, of course, Léaud, who can actually deliver lines like the plaintive “Are women magic?” with a straight face. (When his girlfriend runs off with the stuntman, he's terribly upset, but then, as a colleague points out, “he's always terribly upset.”) Meanwhile, the director, played by Truffaut himself, has recurring black-and-white dreams of a cinephilic childhood. “Shooting a film is like taking a stagecoach ride,” he says. “First you hope to have a nice trip. Then you just hope to reach your destination.” But judging by the exhilaration of Day for Night, for Truffaut, the trip is the destination.

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