Shoot the Piano Player

Starts with a man describing the difficult work of love and marriage before it sprints away from all that boring adult stuff. A curiously adolescent film – the main character has a teenager’s shyness with his crush but is comfortable with paying the prostitute next door. It’s almost as if he can only relax around women when the sex question is settled.

We’ve all been there when we were 14 or so. We know what we should do – we rehearse it over and over in our mind – and yet when the moment of action comes we hesitate and run away. It’s Hamlet syndrome applied to the perilous process of asking girls out. Not just that – in the flashback Truffaut makes clear that the main character struggles whenever the compromises of life and love are revealed. Despite the title the piano player is never shot – its the women around him who die as a result of his timidity.

I get the sense that piano playing, or indeed any kind of creative endeavour, might be a way to sublimate the anxiety of living in the real world. That kind of emotional turbulence and paralysis might fuel great artistic achievement, but the real heroes are the guys who are home every evening to care for the wife and kids.

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