Monday, August 28, 2006
I love Francois Truffaut and this film unabashedly. I've never once disliked anything that man has had a hand in creating. I even enjoy L'Infant Sauvage. With his debut film, Truffaut created one of the greatest paeans to childhood and Paris committed to celluloid. The camera and director are absolutely punch-drunk in love with everything they lay their eyes on. It's an incredible experience. Truffaut would go on to make more competent films (this is very much the work of a young man) but none would ever match the energy and unbridled joy here.
There would be moments when he came close, but nothing would top this film. There's so much to shout about--Antoine Doinel smoking, the schoolboys sneaking off as they are led through the streets of Paris, Antoine stealing milk, Antoine talking to the psychologist, and, of course, the closing shot as Antoine faces the sea. It's a superbly brilliant closing moment and the perfect finale for this film.
I really cannot say a single negative thing about 400 Blows. It's magnificent. I also cannot say a single negative thing about its director. Truffaut is my personal favorite of all the directors that developed out of Cahiers du Cinema. By far. He has a humanity that Godard lacks, and he's simply a more interesting filmmaker than Rohmer or Bresson or Melville. He's wonderful and so is this movie--a Romantic ode to childhood that steers clear of the sentimentality that often bogs down American films dealing with a similar subject. It's simply brilliant.