Truffaut’s fourth feature, and maybe the first he made in conscious response to the ouevre of Alfred Hitchcock, this tale of marital infidelity (between a writer and a flight attendant) is assembled with the kind of wit and impeccable style that are in such shortage today. All the details are in place, including the fear of discovery, the intimations of absurdity and, significantly, a playful eroticism that shows how one falls under the spell of a pretty stranger. My favorite scene is an early hotel-room rendezvous, where the fumbling with keys and locks functions as several different kinds of metaphor, sexual and otherwise. Priceless moments abound, leading to a sharp climax that may pay homage to Hitch, but is pure French melodrama.
I hate to suggest that viewers should check their brains at the door to enjoy a movie, but I’m afraid that sentiment serves both as a warning and a recommendation where The Fifth Element is concerned.