Cinema: Truffaut in Transition

François Truffaut has often spoken of his affection for rapid and startling changes of mood. Shoot the Piano Player careened crazily from farce to thriller, and interludes of pastoral bliss alternated smoothly with scenes of excruciating emotional warfare in Jules and Jim. In these films, Truffaut mingled the various moods; in The Mississippi Mermaid, he segregates them severely. The first half of the film is a thrilling tale of obsession that slides—almost imperceptibly—into an ironic and slightly fanciful romance. The result is certainly Truffaut's smoothest, most professional piece of film making. It is...

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