Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 400 Blows

Directed by Francois Truffaut.
1959. Not Rated, 99 minutes.
Jean-Pierre Leaud
Claire Maurier
Albert Remy
Guy Decomble

Young Antoine Doinel (Leaud) navigates his tough childhood without much guidance from his largely apathetic parents. Part of appreciating this movie is understanding why it was made. This is the directorial debut of Truffaut. Prior to getting behing the camera, he was one of France's top movie critics and had become increasingly disappointed with the way movies were being made. Instead of continuing to complain about the matter, he simply made a movie himself, setting out to do something different than what he'd been seeing. On top of that, its largely autobiographical as well. In the process, he helped kick off what became known as the French New Wave. Read more about it, here. It is a real slice of life, feeling like you're simply spending time with our young hero, not necessarily watching a movie with a traditional plot and conflict, though both eventually become apparent. Nor is it manipulative melodrama, intent on getting you to cry as it so easily could've been. That its unobtrusively shot without a ton of fancy editing tricks helps foster the illusion. The natural feel of the writing and acting work heavily in its favor, also. Though each performance is effortlessly realistic, including that of our child star Leaud, the actors never seem to preen for the camera. Finally, in true slice of life fashion we get a stopping point moreso than an ending. The possibilities of what could happen next are endless, both good and bad. This gives the movie more resonance than your typical happy ending does. If you're an artsy-fartsy film buff, you must see this movie. If the sight of a black-and-white movie instantly puts you to sleep and the thought of reading subtitles turns your stomach stop reading this review now and forget I ever mentioned this flick. Yup subtitleophobes, we're speaking French.

MY SCORE: 10/10

No comments:

Post a Comment