'And God Created Jean-Louis Trintignant' celebrates a legendary career
Trintignant was in two of the most wildly popular "art" export hits of the decade, Claude Lelouch's gauzy swoonfest A Man and a Woman (1966) and Costa Gavras' political thriller Z (1969). Yet his race-car driver in the former tempers its Eurokitsch atmosphere with impenetrable cool, while in the hyperbolic latter he's almost monastically austere as the investigator who patiently picks apart an assassination cover-up. Perhaps his ultimate role as a man of decisive inaction was as The Conformist (1970), again as a Mussolini-era fascist — one who betrays his friends as ruthlessly and usefully as director Bertolucci does the original Moravia novel. Amid that film's ravishing baroque excesses, he's as reptilian, quease-making, and pitiable as a Gollum, if better-dressed.
While he continued to make the odd all-star purely commercial project — a good one being rare 1973 American foray The Outside Man — he usually chose riskier fare. Thus he was the first major star to work with Eric Rohmer (as the Catholic fussbudget sorta-seeking romance in 1969's My Night at Maud's), and an early ally to figures as disparate as Jacques Demy, Claude Chabrol, Tinto Brass, Umberto Lenzi, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and André Téchiné.
Barely slowing despite the transition to character support, he'd found perhaps a definitive pre-Amour farewell role (and chronological end to the PFA series) as the retired judge busy bending laws for his personal amusement in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy (and career) finale Red (1994). It might have served as a perfect capper — but you've got to hand it to any 83-year-old savvy enough to realize Michael Haneke was worth coming out of retirement for. *
"AND GOD CREATED JEAN-LOUIS TRINTIGNANT"
Through April 21
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft, Berk.