Michael wrote:I love how Truffaut keeps her to remain engimatic throughout.. You're left wondering who she is and why she gets that way. Is she mentally ill? Or simply heartbroken? It's a great thing that he never brings a psychologist or psychiatrist into the picture to solve the mystery of Catherine, like the finale of Psycho. Truffaut simply shows that life is more than just an explanation for everything.
Michael, you know I always enjoy your enthusiasm about films, but for lack of a better term - huh?
Catherine and Norman Bates are two entirely different characters in two entirely different films. Norman Bates is a character in a thriller where a psychotic mother is killing sexually powerful females who threaten the bond between her and her son. Norman's condition is explained because it is obviously a form of psychosis that has caused Bates to take extreme actions. Bates is running around in a wig and a dress wielding a knife, so its fairly apparent to the audience that something is seriously wrong with him. The forensic psychiatrist at the end of Psycho
may be unnecessary when it seems so clear that Norman has become lost in his neurosis, but the norms of the thriller genre rely on the fact that the absurdity of the crimes be given a cause, since the genre is built upon investigation and explanation of the crimes involved. Even if the psychiatrist is not allowed his monologue, the reveal of Bates in his mother's wardrobe serves as the audience's explanation.
Even if Catherine is psychotic, the explanation of her mental-illness would not serve a function to Truffaut's film. She remains an enigma because the film deals in relationships and love, not an investigation of a car accident. As far as we know her actions are caused because of the relationship she has between these two men, and everything that precedes the accident is our explanation of her actions. There is also no obvious mental-illness that the audience must grapple with.
While viewers may wonder why Catherine takes such an extreme action, believing she is mentally ill is a personal assumption and interpretation. Implying that Truffaut understands life better than Hitchcock because he doesn't include a monologue from a psychiatrist that explains Catherine's actions doesn't sound very reasonable. It's almost like saying the Coens understand creativity better than Jonze and Kaufman because they don't include a car-crash that kills off a twin brother in Barton Fink
, or that Altman understands filmmaking better than Fellini because he doesn't include a all-cast dance around a rocket in The Player