Claude Miller, a French director whose spare and sometimes disturbing films focused on the interior lives of tormented characters, especially women, while never losing sight of their exterior beauty, died on April 4 in Paris. He was 70.
His production company, which announced his death, said he had been ill for several years, but gave no other details.
Mr. Miller’s films won many awards, including the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the French version of the Oscar, the César. But for better or worse his name was almost always linked in reviews and interviews with that of his mentor, François Truffaut, for whom he had worked as an assistant director and production manager.
While making the 1988 film “The Little Thief,” which is based on the last unfinished manuscript of Truffaut, who died in 1984, Mr. Miller said he lived in dread of the inevitable comparisons. Referring to the critics, he said in an interview with The New York Times, “I was afraid they would destroy me with, ‘What a shame it was directed by Claude Miller.’ ”
The reviews were mainly good.
Like many of the movies Mr. Miller wrote and directed, “The Little Thief” was about a troubled family and its offspring, in this case a more or less abandoned girl who becomes a compulsive thief. In other films Mr. Miller cast his gaze on cruel adults and the young people they have injured (“Class Trip,” 1998); families that harbor secrets that come back to haunt their children (“A Secret,” 2008, and “I’m Glad My Mother Is Alive,” 2011); and the strange, unbreakable bonds between parents and children who otherwise find each other repellent (“Alias Betty,” 2002).
Mr. Miller was born in Paris on Feb. 20, 1942. His parents were secular Jews whose experience during the German occupation shaped his filmmaking in “A Secret,” he told interviewers. After film school, he worked with some of the giants of French cinema, as an assistant to Marcel Carne and Robert Bresson, and then as an assistant director to both Jean-Luc Godard and Truffaut, whose restrained narrative style most influenced him.
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