Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Truffaut juggles an Hitchcockian suspense/thriller with deepening sexual obsession. Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) owns a tobacco plaintation and cigarette factory on Réunion Island, but it's lonely work -- so he sends away for a mail-order bride. Much to his surprise, the lovely and intoxicating Julie (Catherine Deneuve) arrives by ship (the Mississipi Mermaid of the title), looking nothing like the picture he had received by mail. Louis quickly falls for Julie, while discovering that she is decidedly not the woman with whom he had been corresponding.
Ultimately, this strange tale transforms itself into a charismatic love story, in which both participants struggle to forgive each other's secrets and lies -- allowing them to ultimately abandon regret and fear of an uncertain future. In the film's finale, Truffaut returns to the same barren, snowbound cabin that he used to such great effect in Shoot the Piano Player, with substantially less fatalistic results.
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