Film Review: Tirez Sur Le Pianiste (1960)


Charlie the piano player (Charles Aznavour) is down with his life. He lost his wife in a suicide attempt and now has brothers in trouble with the gangsters jeopardizing his own life and his new girlfriend, Lena (Marie Dubois).

Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Piano Player) is a French film, also the second film in the direction of François Truffaut’s illustrious career. Based on David Goodis‘ novel ‘Down There’, it generally differs some points in the characterization of leading man Charlie. But overall it is a masterpiece.


The Film is mere 120 minutes of understanding Charlie to involve you. He is a forsaken individual whose omen calls him to wake his nature and express what he wills but he is always mixed in emotions. In short, he is a confused individual who thinks twice to touch Lena’s hand or hand her back.

Produced in 1960, the film is from the earliest phase of French New Wave, a celebrated dominating era of few decades in which the films became equivalent to art and literature in the state of free expressions and a break from conservative cinematic ideology.


Realism has a much contrast like I mentioned the hardship of Charlie to date, Lena. Then we have a very realistic conversation in gangsters’ vehicle when the subject keeps changing in seconds and never focus on Charlie’s brother. Later on, when Charlie fights, he makes sure the windows and ears of the cruel society have an ugly look. A heated exchange of words b/w Mr. and Mrs. Charlie gives another directional example of an unusual pragmatic scene. Truffaut often played his wild card on brilliant post-marital scenes like Bed and Board and The Soft Skin, which often reminds you works by Satyajit Ray and Mani Ratnam in South Asia.

Truffaut preferred open relations in his films which are another aspect of the new wave era. In many of his films, translation of emotions are wide, open and offers all crossings. Women are free to express her desire by emotions, dresses, and private parts. She is ready to accept relations at a time. Charlie’s girlfriend asks him to inform when he is done with her. This is the same case in other films like Jules and Jim, Two English Girls and even Antoine Doinel series.


Action sequences are the simplest and most realistic essence in the film. Charlie’s fight in the bar (mentioned above) and last 5 minutes of gangsters vs Charlie and brothers is impressive. 

Shoot the Piano Player is a combination of postwar Parisian noir and keen observation on humanist detail. If you don’t accept the film in the first attempt, you will definitely in the second.

Ratings: 8.3/10

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