Confidentially Yours was Truffaut’s last film before his death caused by a brain tumor in 1984. It was only fitting that Truffaut’s last film in his catalog would pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock. Like The 400 Blows, Truffaut again mimicked cinematic styles that Hitchcock has used multiple times in his movies. The major trait that stands out is the return to black and white and Truffaut’s use of camera work to protect the identity of the killer. Truffaut would alternate between overhead shots and low angle shots to keep the cinematography fresh as well as keeping the mystery. This also provided the audience with an open mind to all the suspects that fit the description. Hitchcock’s work is all based on mystery and suspense and Truffaut shows that he has learned a lot from the master. The movie stars Truffaut’s companion at the time of his death, Fanny Ardant. Ardant was a very beautiful woman that Truffaut always came back to play a role in Truffaut’s films. Here she shows she is not just a beautiful face.
Confidentially Yours was based off the mystery novel entitles “The Long Saturday Night” written by Charles Williams. The novel was pretty much a staple of what was popular in early 1940’s Hollywood films at the time. The story has the making of an ordinary Hitchcock film; a love triangle that gets turned upside down due to murder. Julien Vercel, a real-estate broker, finds out that his wife’s lover is murdered. When Julien finds out that he is the prime suspect, he goes into hiding until he can get to the bottom of this mystery. As the evidence points more to the guilt of Julian, the pressure begins to fall on Barbara to play detective.
As the bodies pile up, Barbara begins to work her way deeper into the past of Julian’s wife. Truffaut has fun with Ardant’s beauty multiple times in the film. The recurring joke throughout the movie is from the fact that Barbara is not a blonde. In one scene, Barbara has to impersonate a streetwalker but is informed that she will be at a distinct disadvantage because of her brunette hair. When interviewing a young woman to replace her as secretary after Julian has fired her, the young woman informs Barbara that maybe she would have more luck with men if she was a blonde
While the mystery itself is not exciting, it is the style of Truffaut’s interpretation that makes the movie appealing. Truffaut as well as Hitchcock have been known to do a great job adapting material while keeping the story fresh with original ideas. But with Confidentially Yours, he does little to change anything from the source material. The only changes that seemed to be made are tributes to previous films before Confidentially Yours.
The cinematography in the movie is not innovative but cinematographer Néstor Almendros does his job in copying the style of classic Hollywood. The music scored by Georges Delerue enhances both the comedic scenes and well as add to the suspense in the movie when needed. While some might not consider Confidentially Yours a great film, the film is a great film for fans of both Truffaut and Hitchcock. But quite possibly the movie was not filmed for the intentions for the audience but rather for Hitchcock himself. Quite possibly the movie was a posthumous gift to Hitchcock for all that he has taught him.
It’s fitting that Francois Truffaut’s final movie before his death would pay tribute to Alfred Hitchcock. Confidentially Yours is a murder mystery in the tradition of the master right down to the comedic scenes that Truffaut sprinkles in. The movie showed that Truffaut perfected the makings of a Hitchcock film. Visual tributes can easily be copied and pasted into other’s work to help pay tribute. But Truffaut’s influences from Hitchcock go deeper than just visuals. The feelings that Hitchcock’s visuals bring are important to Truffaut and we see this in his discussion of The 400 Blows and his other influential movies. When an auteur can realize the purpose and emotions of the cinematography, then they can effectively use it in their own ways.
– Bobby Carney