A French little town, at the end of the twenties. Julien Davenne is a journalist whose wife Julie died a decade ago. He gathered in the green room all Julie’s objects. When a fire destroys the room, he renovates a little chapel and devotes it to Julie and his other dead persons.
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How do we grieve? Process the death of those we love, reconcile our presence on this earth after those we care about the most are no longer physically present? No easy answers to this, and Truffaut's La Chambre Verte is a very uneasy, beautifully fragile film. 3.6*
Truffaut's danse macabre turns out, even since the opening credits and the carnage of WWI, to a masterly diatribe on human finitude, loss, and the dialectic of life and death. The fetishistic obituarist is played with waxlike apathy by Truffaut himself with a gorgeously nuanced Bayle next to him striking a chord of life's joy in the grand mausoleum to which he succumbs. Profound, funereal, desperate, and redeeming.
Truffaut said that he made this film—and took the lead role—because he'd reached a point where so many people in his life had died. It's one of his most underrated works, rich and resonant in evoking an obsession with the past that is as unhealthy as it is understandable and flourishes in its historical context. The chief drawback is the end, in which the most interesting threads find closure only through melodrama.
Truffaut is undeniably the great heir of a non discursive narrative cinema, allusively artistic, romanesque. Maybe that's why his films from literary works or its suggestions, like this film, are among his most remarkable movies: there's a writing larger that its imagery and an imagery deeply inscribed in its writing. This film is a summary of the pictorial and literary qualities that an aching vision may invoke.
truffaut adds new depths to henry james's parable and carefully tranfers the ephemeral feeling of spirituality from the short story, moreover he does a great job as an actor not overreacting but at the same time conveying every little emotion of his fragile character, but nathalie baye ruins the movie, she is dull and not eccentric enough for the part
Truffaut himself said of the film: "It's a bit like a declaration of love, and is neither depressing, nor morbid nor sad." Spot on. And therefore a tedious film. And while Truffaut is one of the great masters of cinema, he's not a very good actor. The film suffers from his flat and soulless performance. Nestor Almendros dark cinematography is beautiful though, as usual. (D)