Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Last Metro (1980) Film Review
The Last Metro
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
The confines of a theatre in occupied Paris provide the setting for a stew of stories in Francois Truffaut's The Last Metro - with the theatre a symbol of several types of escape. The war itself occupies one strand, as Marion Steiner (Catherine Deneuve) tries to mount a production following the departure of her husband - at least so far as everyone else is concerned. In fact, Lucas (Heinz Bennent) has embarked on an unusual 'escape', hiding out in the theatre basement, even giving notes on the current work in progress.
The theatre itself offers a slice of more traditional escapism for audiences to forget about the war and air raids for a couple of hours, before dashing for the last metro home in order to make the curfew. Meanwhile, newly hired star Bernard (Gérard Depardieu) isn't just playing a role onstage, he's also masking his resistance identity. As the cast rehearse and the heat of attraction begins to spring between Marion and Bernard, the troupe must also navigate the politics of wartime Paris, including the threat of anti-Semitic critic Daixat (Jean-Louis Richard).
There's such a lot going on in Truffaut's film that, despite the excellent production values and impressive acting all round, the action feels oddly muted. Watching the trailer, you might think a thriller lies in store but the writer/director is, in fact, much more interested in the everyday drama of living under a repressive regime than any major plot twists. The romance angle is also oddly handled, being so restrained as to be almost invisible to begin with, although Deneuve brings a beguiling ambiguity to her role as a woman just trying to achieve what she can under the circumstances - as one of the younger women in the troupe notes, "The only way to succeed is to accept everything". The theatricality also extends outside the theatre, so that scenes in a nightclub or the street also have a stagey look that undercuts the tension.
Depardieu's role feels underwritten, although you can't fault Truffaut for an accurate assessment of not just his character but the star when someone describes Bernard as being "a little like Jean Gabin, physical yet gentle". The gentleness of Depardieu shines out here, although he and Lucas as supporting footlights, used to illuminate the complexity of Marion to its fullest. Deneuve, as always, does not disappoint.Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2022