This enthralling, erotic tale of a young millionaire and his mysterious bride is "bewitching" (The New York Times), "exciting and beautiful" (Time). Written and directed by legendary cinematic genius FranÃ§ois Truffaut (Ju... more »les and Jim) and featuring European superstars Catherine Deneuve (Indochine) and Jean-Paul Belmondo (Les Miserables), Mississippi Mermaid is nothing less than "breathtaking" (Newsweek)! Beauty is by no means rare on the lush, tropical Isle de Reunion. Yet when island resident and tobacco tycoon Louis Mahe (Belmondo) first meets Julie Rouselle (Deneuve)his mail-order fiancÃ(c)ehe's completely enraptured by her radiance. But it soon becomes clear that Julie is hiding a dark secret. And when she disappears without a trace, Louis vows to stop at nothing to find hera resolution that lures him into a tangled web of relentless obsession, uncontrollable passion, and ultimately cold-blooded murder!« less
Alysson Oliveira | Sao Paulo-- Brazil | 02/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If on one hand, "La Sirène du Mississipi" is not Truffaut's best, on the other, it is much better than many films we see nowadays -- say, the quasi-remake of this, called "Original Sin", starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. Both films are based on Willian Irish's --or, if you will, Cornell Woolrich's -- "Waltz into Darkness". But the similarities end here. While Truffaut is an exercise of style and good taste, the other, directed by Michael Cristofer, is so meaningless that is almost vulgar. The plot is very simple, but at the same time catching. A man from Reunion Island orders a mail bride. When he meets her, she turns up to be more beautiful and dangerous than described in the letters and shown in the photos. He imedeately falls for her, and apparently so does she. We, and so does he, learn that she is not really what she meant to be. The film has some fine and exciting twists that keep you wondering what would come next. Catherine Deneuve plays the femme fatale. She comes fresh from Buñuel's "La Belle du Jour", where she has already exercised and improved her glacial blonde side. Here, she goes a bit further, including a bit more of dissimulantion. Not only is she beautiful, but also, very effective as the woman who can dissimulate love. Jean Paul Belmondo plays a very different character from those he had been cast for. He is a bit silly and weak. So the whole relationship is dominated by her, once she is very strong and persuasive. One clear example of this is when they are buying a car. He is sure he wants the silver one, that would be more discreet, but she wants the red one... guess which one they buy! So, don't be fooled, this is a Catherine Deneuve's show. She is dazzingly in her Yves Saint-Laurent. She dominates the frames in every scene she is in! And even some she is out.Another thing, many people may not understand the difference between "tu" and "vous" in this film. It is not a mistake! The writer meant to show different periods in their relationship. When they are close --things are fine-- they use `tu', but sometimes they use `vous', particulary, after spending a time apart-- this means how distant from each other --as a strange -- they became.Truffaut's work is as always very effective and very creative. In the very beginning he does an homage to Jean Renoir, using some footage of his "La Marseillase" introducing Reunion Island. Although this film is meant to be a thriller, in the end, it is much more a love story. A tragic love story of a love that probably shouldn't have happened. We also have to notice how hidden and subtle the sexuality is, in this movie -- as in most of Truffaut's woks. Some of his films may be virtually sexless, but if you watch it very close, you will see sparkles of love everywhere. As a devoted fan of François Truffaut, every film he made, interests me. This "Mississipi Mermaid" makes no exeception. It is intriguing, interesting and disturbing. "Love hurts?", somebody asks in the film. "Yes, it does, when I look at you, you are so beautiful that hurts me. [...] it is a joy and a suffering". As most of his movies: they are a joy, but they also hurt us, once they show how human nature and love can be."
A noire thriller from Truffaut
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 08/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although Mississippi Mermaid was considered one of Truffaut's losers, it has charm and the personalities of the characters will stay with you. It's clearly better than its reputation. Said to be influenced by Hitchcock and then rendered in the Truffautian style, it is a little off the beaten track, and the coincidences are a little ridiculous. Nonetheless Catherine Deneuve is outstanding and strangely at home in a role considered by many to be out of character for her, as though Grace Kelly might play Bonnie in "Bonnie and Clyde." This comes five years after Deneuve charmed audiences in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), and two years after her success in Belle de Jour (1967). She stars here as a skanky ex-home girl with a murderous heart... For all her elegant beauty Deneuve does manage to look cheap and almost sleazy. In some ways she comes to life in this role more than in any other I've seen. Certainly I've never seen her sexier.Co-star Jean-Paul Belmondo is engaging as a slightly sweet and naive tobacco farmer from Reunion Island (near Madagascar) who gets Deneuve as a mail order bride, she and her bad boyfriend having first dumped the real mail order bride overboard en route. If you've never seen Belmondo you should since he was a sensation in his prime, something like a French Marlon Brando."
Dennis Littrell | 01/03/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The story is entertaining enough, but there is not much joy from viewing this DVD. The problem is that the folks producing it apparently were trying to win the contest for the DVD having the world's squattest image. It is EXTREMELY letterboxed WITHIN a 16:9 widescreen format. Even your zoom function won't help you, because the producers moved the subtitles into the black-bar region (and the subtitles are about 2/3 the height of the image itself. The movie becomes simply uninvolving when you see low-resolution images on a thin ribbon across the screen."
Meeting Miss "Right"
Dennis Littrell | 04/26/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film involves the story of a man seeking his "perfect mate" by means of an ad she has placed in a newspaper. He lives on a lonely island in the Indian Ocean (Reunion, once a French colony) and the woman, played by Catherine Deneuve, is from Paris, supposedly. At first the two exchange a series of letters, so as to "get to know one another," and eventually the woman agrees to travel to Reunion to meet the man. He happens to be a wealthy tobacco farmer, and the owner of a cigarette factory, which makes him moderately wealthy. Upon meeting each other in person they appear somewhat uncomfortable with the circumstances, as if niether quite expected what they find. The woman seems to remember little from her correspondance. When sharing his experiences with business partners the man gets less-than-lukewarm responses from his close associates. Despite these peculiar circumstances and an absolute abscence of anything near intimacy the plans for a wedding go forward. Shortly afterward the woman's behavior becomes gradually more bizarre, until finally she disappears altogether, having taken the man's fortune with her. The man's pusuit for this woman, now his wife, follows. We learn he is pursuing more than just a thief; he pursues her as love-object as well, ending up in shady dance halls along the French Riviera, where she is working. Eventually the truth bocomes known, a kind of love between the two develops, and Catherine Deneuve's character as a victim just as much as a victimizer becomes known. All in all I do not think it is one of her best performances. Where the film succeeds at all is in it's underlying message for persons seeking fulfilling relationships by means of classified "personals." In this respect I think Truffaut was ahead of his time."
The bones are here for a nice, nasty tale of self-destructiv
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 08/20/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Julie, you are adorable," says Louis Mahe (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to his beautiful new mail-order bride, Julie Rousel (Catherine Deneuve). "Do you know what that means? `Adorable'. It means worthy of adoration." Louis is a wealthy tobacco grower and cigarette manufacturer on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. When Julie arrived on the island, she didn't look like the photograph she had sent him when she agreed to be his wife. She says she was timid and decided to send the photograph of her sister. Louis is enchanted by her beauty and understands her caution. They marry, and Louis becomes a husband deeply happy. He tells her she is worthy of adoration just a day or two after he arranges to change his personal and business accounts into joint accounts. That evening, Julie has disappeared, cleaning out both accounts. Louis goes to France, has a breakdown, and then by chance sees Julie in a newscast about a new nightclub and the women there who are hostesses. Louis learns she is really a woman named Marion Vergano. Marion's history would lead only the most obsessed of men to think a happy ending could be in the cards. Most of the movie places us in France after Louis has found her and accepted her as Marion Vergano
Mississippi Mermaid, written and directed by Francois Truffaut, is a movie of Louis' obsession, of sexual psychosis, of parasitic selfishness, of stolen identity and of rat poison, with a lot of self-revealing (some of it even true) dialogue thrown in. As much as I think comparing one director to another is usually pointless, in this case Truffaut may have watched Vertigo, Psycho and Marnie once too often. Still, murder at the top of the stairs, the star power of Deneuve and Belmondo and some eccentric passing opinions (Louis thinks Johnny Guitar is "a love story, with lots of feeling in it."), all handled with Truffaut's characteristic confidence isn't something to pass by. The downside is that Mississippi Mermaid, despite all of its advantages, at times veers too close to melodramatic parody.
"You mustn't cry, my dear. It's your happiness I want, not your tears."
"I'm learning what love is, Louis. It's painful. It hurts me." It sounds better in French, but the meaning is just as soppy.
Truffaut adapted his movie from the pulp mystery novel, Waltz into Darkness, by Cornell Woolrich writing as William Irish. The movie didn't do too well the first time out, but then underwent a rediscovery of sorts. Unfortunately, that meant articles by people who teach film studies at universities. One such person wrote, "[Mississippi Mermaid] remains a fascinating exploration of the major themes essayed by movie melodramas of betrayal - a sort of distillation of the amoral nucleus of Double Indemnity and the wilder settings of Key Largo." Distillation of the amoral nucleus? I don't even know what an amoral nucleus is. The salient point, for me, is that films such as Double Indemnity and Key Largo are above all else tightly told stories. I think Truffaut with Mississippi Mermaid started with a nice, nasty, obsessional pulp tale, but then tried to do too much with it.
The DVD is not anamorphic. The transfer is nothing special. There are no extras."