my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   The 400 Blows
Director:   Francois Truffaut
Year:   1959
Genre:   Drama
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   08.17.07

Other Movies Seen By This Director (2)
- The Green Room
- Jules and Jim

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
08.17.07Paramount Truffaut's first full-length. At one point I thought the absolute sign of Hollywood apocalypse is if I ever hear that a remake of this movie is in development. If I ever write anything in the movie-about-movies mold, a 400 Blows remake will be my condemnation of Hollywood moviemaking. Worse than Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season, Worse than Son or Daughter of Glen or Glenda, I can see some smartguy suit in an office putting Haley Joel in it and giving it a green light. ugh.

But anyway, I love this movie too. Again, it's heavy. it makes me sad. The only comfort I get out of this movie is knowing that I get to see Antoine Doinel in 4 other movies grow up and get into trouble with exceedingly hot women and generally make it through life alright. Just watching this movie, you're not quite sure.

But again, the movie feels so complex in its nuance to me that it's hard to settle on one feeling for any length of time. Even with the parents, I keep flip-flopping between condemning them as bad parents and letting them off the hook. Why? because they're human. They're not Cruella DeVille or Mary Poppins but somewhere in between, depending on which day you see them. OK yes, the mom is pretty undeniable, but the Dad really gets me. He seems like a nice guy most of the time, but Leaud plays against him like he's expecting a slap at any moment and, to be honest, I totally remembered him hitting the kid when he sets the fire, so I guess that says more about my judgement of the character.

And then you have the friend kid's parents, who are equally dysfunctional but funny since we don't have to live with them too long and they have lots of cats. If anything, they're problems are even worse than the Doinels' but we never see them that way.

I think in Small Change Truffaut states his message too on the nose with the latchkey kid character with the rotten parents. Here, it's explored perfectly through an eye that reeks of authenticity. Even without reading the biography to know that Truffaut's childhood was unhappy or that Antoine Doinel is basically Truffaut's stand-in or the father-son relationship he formed with Jean-Pierre Leaud, you know it's real. you know because you see it on the screen. It oozes out of all the details peeking out around the loose plot. There's one shot in the film where Leaud is lying on a bed (I've forgotten if it was the scene where he pretends to be asleep when his mom comes home or if it's when he's in the jail cell) and he's lying there awake and it fades to black but Truffaut keeps the gleam in his eyes for just a split second longer, stranded in the black. I remember catching that and wondering if anyone else did because it was such a quick small thing. Then it made me wonder what exactly people notice that gives this film that undeniable feeling of realism, or if people even know (I certainly don't). People feel it though, it sinks in somehow.

Again, nothing new here... no critical breakthroughs to win any Cahiers du Cinema award or anything... but whatever. It's great to see this on the big screen.
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