The rarely seen Vivement Dimanche! was François Truffaut’s last film, and while it’s full of a vibrant passion for Fanny Ardant, his leading lady both on and off screen, it hasn’t stood the test of time like most of his earlier work.
Truffaut’s love of the Hollywood B movie is apparent in every frame, but while the great French director may have aimed for a lightness of touch, there’s more than the occasional clunky note that spoils the flow and leaves you wondering just what might have been.
Truffaut, for obvious and understandable reasons, seems much too besotted with Ardant, who steals the show and the viewer’s heart, but at the expense of the rest of the cast and the twists and turns of a frivolous plot. Jean-Louis Trintignant, one of France’s all time great actors, is totally wasted here, his role is little more than to support Ardant and be charmed by her luminous presence.
Art begins to fail when the creator begins to take his personal passions much too seriously and in Vivement Dimanche! the director just can’t see anyone else in the frame apart from his beloved actress. This is an unintentional lesson for us all from the great director of Jules et Jim and Les Quatre Cents Coups.
An artist needs to take a step backwards, needs to plan and create with a cool head, even when the heart is full and overflowing. Art needs to be more than passion. It needs to tell a story and communicate with us too, if it’s to be something more than just another a diversion from reality.
In Vivement Dimanche! Truffaut created a luminous diversion, when he probably would have preferred to create a more lasting and luminous work of art.