There has never been a doubt in my mind that Truffaut had a passion for the filmmaking process. Although he has stumbled for me a couple of times, for the most part I can see he tried as hard as he can in order to make the film as good as it can be. He puts his heart and soul into making film because he loves it. He loves it more than just talking about films, seeing films or interviewing filmmakers. If he didn’t he would have stayed a very respectable critic and never have ventured outside to make his own art. Although all of those things that he did were great, his real masterpieces lie in his films… especially this film.
Day for Night is about the making of a melodrama. Truffaut plays the director of the film who encounters several setbacks and comprises but never stops making this film because he has to. He has to make films in order to be alive. He cares only for this film. At one point there is a call for him at the front desk of the hotel the whole cast and crew are staying at from a woman who seems to be a part of his personal life. She is says it is urgent and he brushes is off telling her that she is busy writing which he is. This director possesses the tunnel vision required to make the film successful or at least make the film complete.
As much as this film is a love letter to the production side, it is also a laundry list of things that can go wrong. Getting a cat to walk from point A to B is enough to make anyone go insane, but the director has to stay calm and hope that at maybe this take the damn cat who has had a lot of expensive training will finally be able to hit its mark. This is of course nothing compared to the insecurities and ticks of the actors that he cast. One actress refuses to be in a bathing suit because she doesn’t want it known that she is pregnant. Another actress can’t control her drinking enough to remember that one door leads to a closet and the other door leads to the hall. One actress is uninsurable due to a series of mental breakdowns she has had on past productions, another actor is hiding his homosexuality, and another is violently in love with a crew member only to get his heart-broken and threaten to quit. All of these actors and actresses create problems for the director but he is willing to overcome them in order to get something special out of them and because he loves them like it is his family. In fact this is one of the best examples of an unconventional family committed to celluloid. Each member of the cast and crew are loving to each other because they all love the filmmaking process or they would not be there. It is quite beautiful to see.
This film feels like the perfect encapsulation of Truffaut as a director. He shows human relationships in relation to the art they create without a rose-colored filter. He shows his love for films in several scenes, most notably in the one where he is listening to a first cut for a love song over the phone while he unwraps a package revealing books on his favorite directors. (I love that scene for some reason… It is such a small moment in the film, but it packs so much emotional power for me) He tells a compelling story that is both political and not political. He comes up with unique shots and filters that can only be achieved by him. I love this film and I will probably go back to it again and again because it is a masterpiece. I guess that is all that needs to be said.