Director: François Truffaut
Writer: François Truffaut
Cinematographer: Raoul Coutard
Producer: Pierre Roustang
by Jon Cvack
This rounds out the Antoine Doinel series for me. Here’s the ranking:
Antoine and Colette is a thirty minute short film, shot three years after The 400 Blows. For those who don’t remember (as I didn’t), The 400 Blows finishes with a freeze frame of Antoine on the beach after having escaped the boys home where his parents left him. In Antoine and Colette, he’s back on the Paris streets, now working at record store and living on his own. At a concert, he sets eyes on a student Colette (Marie-France Pisier) and falls in love, attempting to court her. When she invites Antoine back home to her parent’s house, Antoine discovers a loving family who accept him as though a second child much to Colette’s disagreement who was hoping for a more rebellious dynamic and preventing the relationship from going any further. Antoine refuses to give up, going so far as to move across the street, which pleases the parents, but further alienates Colette. In the end, her parents invite Antoine over once again for dinner and television. As dinner wraps, Antoine’s friend arrives to take Colette out (he also appeared in The 400 Blows; who helped coordinate the typewriter theft).
Contrary to the three sequels following, Antoine and Colette maintains the gritty realism with just a dollop of quirkiness which defined the first film. The series would go on to flip the formula, playing as Wes Anderson-lite for Bed and Board, Stolen Kisses, culminating in a clip show for Love on the Run (though exploring some interesting ideas about memory). Rooted in reality, Antoine and Colette captures early infatuations, in which there’s no basis for love beyond the physical; not that anyone’s ever aware until long after it’s past. Additionally, counter to the other four films of the series Antoine is actually a pretty decent person in this film, as though the calm before the storm before he’d go on to develop his complete selfish desire.
I’m not a big fan of short films, as they often either play far too slow, or rely far too heavily a twist (either superficial or moral), but this film is one of the better ones. It offers a slice of life; giving us a taste of authentic 1960s Parisian streets; providing what any great film captures in documenting a specific place at a specific time. It’s the perfect length; explored in ways memories pass; serving as nothing more than fragments which race by. I think I’d consider a film like this a feature; containing all the heart of a similar story three times its length.
BELOW: A new wave cringe
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