Picks and Pans Review: Confidentially Yours

updated 02/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

No director takes such obvious joy in making films as Francois Truffaut. This case in point is a black-and-white mystery that seems a homage to the French films noirs and the work of Truffaut's idol, Alfred Hitchcock. It is a loose-jointed, funny, quietly sexy romp. Jean-Louis (Z) Trintignant plays a real estate broker whose hunting companion and slutty wife are murdered within a few hours of each other. Since the hunting pal was the wife's lover, there is only one suspect. Trintignant's secretary, Fanny (The Woman Next Door) Ardant, has no doubt that he is guilty, but she loves him, so she spends the rest of the movie trying to save him. More bodies turn up. A cop with an inferiority complex takes on the case. New suspects materialize, among them a priest, a pimp and a movie-theater cashier. Plausibility is not the point; fugitive Trintignant, for instance, spends most of his time hiding in his own office, hardly the most plausible refuge. Truffaut and co-writers Suzanne Schiffman and Jean Aurel, though, let everyone in on their conceit: Events don't have to be true to life as long as they're true to the tone of the movie. Things whiz to a satisfying but unsurprising climax that includes one of many Hitchcockian touches, the police inspector discussing dinner with his wife (see Dial M for Murder or Frenzy). Francis Coppola, among others, might learn a lesson from this film: A director does not have to make a profound statement every time he rolls his cameras. Sometimes it is sufficient to just have a good time. (In French, with very bad English subtitles: "cannon" becomes "canon," "nice" becomes "niece," and the French word for sweat, transpiration, is translated "transpiration"—valid English but hardly idiomatic.) (PG)

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