Truffaut's second feature is now recognised as one of the key films of the French nouvelle vague. Based (not too loosely, except in mood) on David Goodis' novel Down There, it's a strange pastiche of gangster movie, love story, and cabaret film, with a totally and calculatedly unpredictable plot about a lonely pianist with a past. The story is by turns comic and pathetic, often flashing midstream from one mood to the other, and Aznavour's performance as the wounded hero is a masterstroke of casting. In many ways fantastic, the film is paradoxically much more realistic than most in the way it uses both character and environment. Which is, after all, what the New Wave was about.
[Time Out Film Guide]