Archive for the ‘French New Wave’ Category
Similar to Les Mistons (1957), Francois Truffaut once again focuses this short on the pains and miscommunications of young love. Truffaut obviously felt adolescence very intensely. This film is part of an omnibus collection L’Amour à vingt ans (Love at 20), and is also the second of five films the director made starring his alter ego, Antoine Doinel. Culture Cartel describes more of the context of the film.
Colette was of more interest to me. Unlike the typical Hollywood female roles of the time (I’m thinking of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot), Colette (played by Marie-France Pisier) is an independent, educated girl. She weilds all of the power in her friendship with Antoine, and whether or not she is purposefully toying with his emotions is unclear, though probable. Even though she’s the reason the film does not have a “happy” ending, I can’t help but like her. I also cannot help being reminded of a more recent film with the same themes, 500 Days of Summer (2009), starring Joseph Gorden-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The female lead in that film, Summer, fosters a relationship with the male lead while spurning his romantic advances, just as Colette does with Antoine. Independent female aside, the trials of young love are obviously a theme filmmakers return to continually and explore in a myriad of personal ways.
This film is interesting for the narrative distance the audience has from all of the characters. We feel for the “brats” as they express immature love for a woman, we feel for the woman as she loses her first love, but we feel all this sympathy in a way so removed that we do not experience any of the usual immersive qualities of a film. It is almost as if we are watching an animal documentary: “See how the native Frenchwoman falls in love in her natural habitat…” An article on Senses of Cinema makes the point that this story was one with deep personal connections for Truffaut, making the distanced narrative all the more curious. The article also discusses many of the film tricks used to play up the story’s innocence sensuality:
Truffaut used every possible device to make the film as sensuous as possible; it is a catalogue of trick effects, from reverse motion (in the scene in which the young boys play cops and robbers) to slow motion (the lover’s final kiss on the balcony; the shot of one of the young boys kissing the seat of Bernadette’s bicycle in innocently sexual adoration).
FilmsdeFrance.com also discusses how this film is a shining example of the French new wave cinema movement.
Les Mistons heralded a much needed return to the age of the free-thinking independent film directors of the past, when film-making had been an art, not just a shallow commercial exercise.
So though I may not appreciate a film where the audience’s sympathies for the characters are only perfunctory, the film still has a timeliness and artfulness that is important to consider.