The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 20-26

05/20/2015 10:39 AM |

    the last metro

The Last Metro (1980)
Directed by François Truffaut
Truffaut’s timeless political, emotional, and technical virtuosity is on full display in The Last Metro, which dominated the 1981 César Awards, as he dissects German-occupied France’s submerged agony with tight pans and quick cuts that reveal a world dense with duplicitous and furtive activity. Theater owner and actress Marion Steiner—a superbly fluid Catherine Deneuve, segueing between native poise and incongruous distraction—is whipsawed by prudence and patriotism. She must hide her fugitive Jewish husband Lucas while not only staying open—Parisians took refuge in theaters, trundling home on the last subway before curfew—but also resisting abject capitulation to craven collaborationist censorship. This she accomplishes by staging a cryptically anti-Nazi play, Disappearance, that Lucas clandestinely directs to keep from going stir-crazy. Complicating Marion’s balancing act is saturnine leading man Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu, very intense), whom she finds recklessly militant—and disconcertingly attractive. French nationalism, pride, culture, and stamina triumph, as indeed they did, and duress, endearingly, excuses straying. A beautifully crafted film. Jonathan Stevenson (May 22-25, 11am at IFC Center’s Deneuve matinee series)