In "The Last Metro", François Truffaut studies artists struggling against the odds - the artists being a Parisian theatre company and the odds, the Nazis, two years into their occupation of Northern France.
Truffaut sets the scene by telling us that under the occupation, food and fuel are scarce, and people book to go to the theatre, months in advance, often just to keep warm.
When Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), the Jewish owner of the Montparnasse Theatre, is forced into hiding from the Nazis, his gentile wife and lead actress Marion (Catherine Deneuve) takes over. She hires the womanising actor Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu) for the lead in their next production, the aptly titled play "Disappearance", which is to be directed from Lucas' own notes.
As the film examines the rehearsals and production of the play, against a backdrop of fear and anti-Semitic persecution, Marion's frustration at the increasing emptiness of her marriage and the tenderness of her acting with Bernard draws her towards him.
Bernard's membership of the Resistance clashes with Marion's laissez-faire attitude towards the Nazis, adding to the tension and strains within the company.
As one would expect from lead actors of this quality, Deneuve and Depardieu deliver magnetic performances, and the details of the period are exquisitely observed.
But with few of the director's idiosyncrasies, this is not one of Truffaut's more groundbreaking films. However, his uncharacteristically mainstream approach was well received: the film won ten César Awards.
The Curzon Cinema in Soho, London, is featuring a special François Truffaut tribute throughout March and will be taking the season around the country until July.