Shoot the Piano Player

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Part thriller, part comedy, part tragedy, Shoot the Piano Player relates the wild adventures of mild-mannered Charlie Koller (Charles Aznavour), a former concert pianist reduced to playing honky-tonk rags in a side street bar. When his past catches up with him in the form of his wayward brother Chico (Albert Rémy), Charlie stumbles into the criminal underworld and a whirlwind love affair with admiring waitress Léna (Marie Dubois). Of course, things don’t necessarily go Charlie’s way, and he’s soon got a one-way ticket to Noirsville! Francois Truffaut’s second feature film (following closely on the heels of his international smash The 400 Blows), based on the classic hard-boiled novel by David Goodis, is both a sly tribute to American Film Noir and a clever, exhilarating rethinking of its key components. Working with unprecedented spontaneity and jazzy improvisation, the young filmmaker’s movie-mad thriller manages to combine grim fatality, happy accident, slapstick comedy, lurid melodrama and cinematic experimentation into a hugely enjoyable package that is at once pure Film Noir and pure French New Wave.