The Last Metro (1980)

Directed by Francois Truffaut and starring Catherine Denueve and Gerard Depardieu, the film opens with the very French-sounding love song “Mon amant de Sant Jean” playing over the credits. We find ourselves in occupied France during WWII where a little theater is struggling to stay open. The  famed Jewish director Lucas Steiner has been forced to flee from the Nazis although in reality he is actually hiding in the cellar of the theater. In his absence his wife Marion has taken up his role of running the theater while also continuing to act. Early on we are introduced to the young actor Bernard who is chosen to play one of the new roles in the upcoming production. At the same time Marion must try and acquire the permit to stay open from a man whom she despises, the art critic Daxiat, who has anti-Semitic beliefs. They do stay open however, and with the director’s notes of Lucas they prepare their show and open to great success. Many of the French come to their shows as an escape before they take the Last Metro home. However, at their performance Daxiat gives them a harsh review and it angers Bernard. His actions ultimately jeopardize the theater and as a result his relations with Marion become strained. As if that were not enough some Gestapo come to the theater searching for Lucas and they must rush to hide him. Needless to say the film ends on a positive note but the film is not so much about resistance against the Nazis compared to the struggles of a theater to survive. Denueve gives a moving performance and although this is not Truffaut’s best, it is admirable. As the audience, not only do we watch a movie, but we watch the play within the movie and then the drama behind the play, so Truffaut  takes us a little deeper.

4/5 Stars

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