Tuesday, January 17, 2012

25. SUCH A GORGEOUS KID LIKE ME (UNE BELLE FILLE COMME MOI, 1972)

Though Columbia released François Truffaut's SUCH A GORGEOUS KID LIKE ME in the United States, it was not well-received and has all but vanished from availability since the dawn of home video. It's a curious project for Truffaut, being based on a 1967 crime novel by American writer Henry Farrell, best-known for his "horror hag" scenarios WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, HUSH HUSH... SWEET CHARLOTTE and WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN (respectively directed by Robert Aldrich and Curtis Harrington, who also directed another film based on a Farrell novel, HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN), but manages to fit, if a bit awkwardly, in the same pigeonhole as SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER and CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS, as works of tongue-in-cheek noir.

The film begins with a young student visiting a bookstore in search of a sociology thesis entitled "Criminal Women," which was scheduled for publication a year before. The store's manager explains that the book was indeed announced but never published, and the story is then offered as an explanation for its withholding. In his screen debut, André Dussolier stars as sociologist Stanislas Previne who is preparing a thesis exploring the question of why women turn to crime. In search of answers, he meets with convicted murderess Camilla Bliss (THE MOTHER AND THE WHORE's Bernadette Lafont) for a series of interviews, during which she charms him and blinds him to her personal flaws, much to the annoyance of his girlfriend Hélène (Anne Kreis), who is transcribing his tapes into manuscript form. In time, Camilla provides Stan with enough information to help him establish her innocence, but by this time, she has been corrupted by the system as well as by life, and she teaches Stan the ultimate lesson that there is only one way he can begin to understand what he is writing about.

It's been said that this is Truffaut's worst film, that if you love Truffaut, you will hate this film, but I adore Truffaut despite occasional weaknesses (like his oft-times overpitched sentimentality) and enjoyed this one more than I was prepared to do. It has some rough edges (which caused me to reflect his satiric technique here is really not all that different from Jess Franco's, though he takes more time with it) but his affection for his characters shines through, and there are some surprising magic realist touches. Lafont is endearingly brassy as the sexy, amoral, schizophrenic manipulator Camilla. Her many lovers include Philippe Leotard as her hapless husband Clovis, Guy Marchand as nightclub singer Sam Golden (who accompanies his lovemaking with a record album of Indianapolis 500 races!), THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN's Charles Denner as a rat exterminator named Arthur (whom Camilla tries to seduce into exterminating some rats of her own), and SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES' Michel Delahaye as her attorney.

Available as an Umbrella Entertainment Australian import called A GORGEOUS GIRL LIKE ME through Amazon.fr.

3 comments:

  1. I've been talking to people about this film for YEARS and people thought I was on a drug trip, as they'd never heard of it. I loved the dark and bizarre humour, totally unlike anything he ever did.

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  2. Thanks for the Heads-up on this film. Wasn't aware of it, but love SHOOT & CONFIDENTIALLY. I just ordered a used copy off Amazon from an Aussie seller for $15.98 US.

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  3. I also enjoyed it very much! I can't beleive that it took me so me much time to see it. You can read my review here if you want http://silverparticules.blogspot.com/2012/03/une-belle-fille-comme-moi-gorgeous-girl.html the English version comes after the French one! :)

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