tue 04/08/2020

DVD: The Adventures of Antoine Doinel - Five Films by François Truffaut | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Adventures of Antoine Doinel - Five Films by François Truffaut

DVD: The Adventures of Antoine Doinel - Five Films by François Truffaut

“The 400 Blows’” anti-hero Antoine Doinel lacks charm in the long run

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and wife Christine (Claude Jade) take different approaches to literature in 1970’s “Bed & Board”

François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is a classic. Not only is it one of cinema's best films and a foundation of French New Wave, it also affectingly and rivetingly depicts an anomie-filled childhood. Released in 1959, it was a comment on French society which pulled no punches yet had warmth at its core. The magnetic star was Jean-Pierre Léaud, playing the then 13-year-old anti-hero Antoine Doinel with a panache which seemed as though he was refracting his own persona.

Truffaut did not leave it alone and four more Doinel vehicles followed: Antoine and Colette (1962), Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed & Board (1970) and Love on the Run (1979). A half-hour section of the portmanteau film L’amour a vingt ans, Antoine and Colette found the older and less-wise Doinel attempting to romance Colette (Marie-France Pisier). Like Doinel and his future wife Christine (Claude Jade), Colette became a recurring character in the films. This box set collects the four stand-alone DVDs of the full-length films with no material additional to the existing extras (Antoine and Colette is included on the Bed & Board disc – it would, chronologically, make more sense with either The 400 Blows or Stolen Kisses). A keen price is the driver, and anyone already owning each DVD need not seek this out.

Despite The 400 Blows’ epochal nature, each of the subsequent films is a less impactful, quirky romantic comedy of manners. All are overshadowed by their forebear. Doinel is tracked through his relationships, marriage, fatherhood and divorce. He publishes a self-serving book on his life and frequents prostitutes, but otherwise just-about holds down a series of inane jobs: he operates the remote control for model boats in a harbour demonstration; he dyes flowers; he is an incapable TV repair man. Seen in toto over the films subsequent to The 400 Blows, his charm wears thin as does the whimsy. He is capricious, a clever-arse, selfish and vain. But he charms many of those around him. The 400 Blows is a five-star classic. Overall though, this is a three-star set. Truffaut and Léaud should have left it alone after The 400 Blows. Eric Rohmer did this sort of thing much better.

Despite "The 400 Blows’" epochal nature, each subsequent film is a less-impactful romantic comedy of manners

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Average: 3 (1 vote)

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