Monday, June 14, 2010

Les 400 coups (1959)

Like Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine, François Truffaut's Les 400 coups is about the harshness of life on boys, and in this case, to the center character, Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud - who reminded me of Franco Interlenghi, who was in Shoeshine). In the beginning of the movie, Antoine is a boy like others, who sometimes do naughty things - which depicted well in this. [The title means "to do wild/foolish things when one is young".] Antoine begins to rebel when he thinks that he receives unfair punishments, which culminates when the French teacher suspends him from school even though he doesn't do anything wrong. He is forced to steal and sent to juvenile prison. His parents think he is incorrigible and have given up. 

I think all who have seen the movie will think that it isn't Antoine's fault. We will blame his parents, his French teacher, and perhaps the bad influence from his friend René. If they could understand him better, he would have not fallen like that. His life is getting bitter and harder throughout the movie. A single happy time is when his parents take him out to the movie. As he is so happy, the next blow becomes intolerable, and the fall is very painful.

The b/w picture by cinematographer Henri Decaë is beautiful as usual. There is also a brief appearance from Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Claude Brialy - whose characters are looking for a lost dog - in the scene where Antoine himself wandering in the street, alone and lost.

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