Mississippi Mermaid" (1969), is a French film, written and directed by famed director Francois Truffaut(The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] ). It is an odd little melodrama, a crime/drama/romance, said to have been influenced by the famous British-American film director Alfred Hitchcock, that has the privilege of presenting two of the greatest stars of contemporary French cinema, Jean Paul Belmondo (Breathless [DVD] ) and Catherine Deneuve(The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg [DVD] ; Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary  [DVD]) in its leading roles. It is based on the novel Waltz into Darkness by well- known American mystery/thriller author Cornell Woolrich, writing as William Irish, and was dedicated to famed French film director Jean Renoir. It's not considered one of Truffaut's greatest pictures, but it has its moments. The picture is set in the little-known French island of Reunion, near Madagascar, off Africa. Belmondo, who looks very uncomfortable in suit and tie, plays Louis Mahe, a sweet but slightly naïve, successful businessman who owns tobacco fields and a cigar factory. He is awaiting, when the picture opens, Julie Roussel as a mail order bride, whom he knows only from her letters. When she arrives, aboard the ship "Mississippi Mermaid," she arrives in the person of the stunning Deneuve, and is much more beautiful, and quite different, than he expected. His life thereafter will take quite a few unexpected turns, most of them for the worst. "Mississippi Mermaid" gives us perhaps the best look we will ever get at the island of Reunion. We also get to see some of southern France, the Riviera, Paris, and snowbound Switzerland. It is a treat to look at the two stars in their gorgeous young primes, and their acting, as well as that of the rest of the cast, is quite acceptable. Deneuve was less cold, and more sexy, certainly more skanky, than her usual persona. Belmondo, once freed of his earlier Reunion-bound persona, is able to loosen up and inhabit the emotions his character develops, as the pair establish a more reality-based relationship. Not the greatest French movie by a long shot, more a footnote curiosity, but worth seeing for fans of director or stars.
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