Mississippi Mermaid (La Sirène du Mississipi) (1969)

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Movie Info

Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is the wealthy factory owner living on a French island off the coast of Africa. When he advertises for a mail order bride, he receives a picture and letter from the woman who agrees to join him. The woman who shows up is not the one in the photo, but Julie (Catherine Deneuve) explains she sent the picture of a friend. The two are soon married and Louis takes ill soon thereafter. As his health worsens, Julie leaves after depleting their joint bank account of all the money. After a frantic drive to the bank, Louis hires a private detective to search for her. Locating Julie in a sleazy dance hall, she explains she is an orphan and was forced into the scam by a man she met on board the ship. The man killed the mail order bride and dumped her body overboard, replacing her with Julie to bleed the wealthy Louis dry. The two try to reconcile after Louis shoots and kills the detective. Hiding out in a remote mountain cabin, Julie slowly poisons Louis with rat poison in this disturbing story of greed and murder.

Cast

Jean-Paul Belmondo
as Louis Mahé
Catherine Deneuve
as Julie Roussel/Marion Vergano
Nelly Borgeaud
as Berthe Roussel
Yves Drouhet
as Detective
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Critic Reviews for Mississippi Mermaid (La Sirène du Mississipi)

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (8)

The redemptive power of love is joined with a stifled guffaw of irony.

Apr 13, 2015 | Full Review…

Mississippi is a film noir shot in dazzling color, a Hitchcock movie with the soul of a Jean Renoir drama.

Apr 29, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Try to view this tale of a siren's song as something chewier than a cover version of Hitch's greatest hits, and what's left is a facile take on l'amour fou.

Jul 8, 2009 | Rating: 3/5
Time Out
Top Critic

Truffaut's frequently overlooked eighth feature isn't kid stuff.

Jul 8, 2009 | Full Review…

It defies easy definition and blithely triumphs over what initially appears to be structural schizophrenia. It is the creation of a superior moviemaker who works eccentrically in the classical tradition.

Jun 8, 2003 | Rating: 5/5

One of the director's weakest films.

Jan 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Mississippi Mermaid (La Sirène du Mississipi)

½

This movie feels a bit like 'Truffaut doing Hitchcock', which has its good points and bad points. On the positive side, it may surprise you with you with its twists and turns. Knowing absolutely nothing about it, I was intrigued by the first part, when a tobacco plantation owner on Reunion Island (Jean-Paul Belmondo) meets his fiancée (Catherine Deneuve) who he met and fell in love with through the mail, soon realizing that not is all as it seems. However, on the negative side (and without giving away the plot), as the movie went on, the actions of the characters (and Belmondo in particular) were not always believable. Even if you factor in love and physical attraction driving people to extremes, he's remarkably blasé about missing 27 million francs. It kept my interest and had some great shots by Truffaut, including a fantastic scene between Belmondo and Deneuve at a fireplace, but ends up 'good' and 'not great' as a result.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

A man mail-orders a wife who rather quickly steals his fortune. He pursues her, and they begin a cat-and-mouse courtship. Critics seem to suggest that this is either Truffaut imitating Hitchcock, a unique love story, or both. For me, the Hitchcockian plot is easy to stay ahead of; the film doesn't offer many surprises, and when it attempts to, they seem contrived and forced. Likewise, the love story lacks any chemistry. I spent most of the film wondering what allure Julie has aside from Catherine Deneuve's rather attractive physique, and from her point of view, how is Jean-Paul not just another obsessive mark? Also, I'm wondering about the comparisons of Truffaut to Hitchcock regarding this film from a directing point of view. Hitch's trademarks were his incredibly well-framed shots, which revealed and concealed with precision, and deft camera movement. Truffaut often sets the camera on a tripod and says, "Action." I think this works well in the Antonin Doinel films, which are more about character than plot, but it falls flat in this noir-ish snore. However, I did like the ending, but for fear of spoiling, I shall not say why. Overall, this film fails to meet any expectations -- high ones like Truffaut's reputation and its comparison to Hitchcock and low ones like what I'd expect any time I start to watch a film.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

I'm not sure sure, but I pretty confident that Original Sin (2001) was remake of this film. Original Sin sucked but Mississippi Mermaid is a solid film.

FanGirl Browncoat
FanGirl Browncoat

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=blue]"Mississippi Mermaid" starts out on the Isle of Reunion as cigarette factory owner, Louis Mahe(Jean Paul Belmondo) waits for his fiancee as the eponymous boat is docking. He met her through a personal ad.(During the opening credits, various voices read out personal ads.) The woman who shows up does not resemble the photo he was sent but he does not mind since the woman is played by the beautiful Catherine Deneuve. As he gets to know her, he becomes suspicious that things are not exactly right. This is not one of Francois Truffaut's better movies but it is still entertaining due to the talents of its two stars.(According to Wikipedia, the Isle of Reunion is still under the government of France which lends an uncomfortable air of colonialism to the proceedings.)[/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=#0000ff][/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=red]I had hesitated in seeing "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" before because when I had seen the trailer, it had looked very corny, especially the scene at the train station where the two lovers part. But since I have now seen the film, I have come to a different conclusion. Watching Genevieve(Catherine Deneuve) and Guy(Nino Castelnuovo) in love for the first thirty minutes makes that scene in the context of the film powerfully emotional. Guy is getting drafted into the army and they are not sure when they will be reunited. What makes this film unique is that all of the dialogue is sung(early in the film, the couple mention they are going to go see the opera, Carmen) and the film is absolutely beautiful to look at. This is an excellent film about the idealism of youth as compared to the compromises of being a grown up.(Roland Cassard(Marc Michel) who was a character in Jacques Demy's Lola(1961) makes a return appearance here.)[/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=#0000ff][/color][/font] [font=Century Gothic][color=#0000ff][/color][/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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