Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Adventures of Antoine Doinel

Long before movie sequels became mandatory, Francois Truffaut made a series of films following the life of Antoine Doinel, a semi-autobiographical character.
Part 1 is Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 blows). The literal translation is 'Hellraiser'.
Doinel is a young boy living in Paris. He nicks of school, shoplifts, tells his teacher his mum has died to get out of school. In general a 'hellraiser'.

One day whilst playing truant he finds out his mother has a lover, which makes life at home even worse.

We next meet Antoine in "L'Amour à vingt ans " or better known as 'Antoine et Collette'. (the section of the movie that follows Antoine's life). Doinel is now just reaching early adulthood, and is not the most confident with the fairer sex. He falls in love with an older student who doesn not return his adoration. Collette re-appears in the next part, movie number 3, in a short scene. She passes Antoine in the street with her new husband. A Truffaut subtlety 'par excellence'. It was this movie that made me so interested in Truffaut's work when I was also going through my 'awkward' teenage years.

6 years later he made the third film 'Baiser Volés' (Stolen Kisses). Doinel has been in the army and recently left to pursue his love 'Christine Darbon'. He goes through various dead end jobs, before landing a position as a private investigator. Here he meets a shoe-shop owner Madame Tabard, a very elegant sexy lady who he is fascinated with and who eventaully seduces him.
I have read this is one of the least acclaimed of the Doinel series but for me it is the best.

Part 4: A silimar feel to Baiser Volés, "Domicile Conjugal" (Bed and Board) . Doinel is now 26. Married to Christine and working in a safe looking corporate job. His wife falls pregnant and Antoine falls for a japanese colleague, who is a little wierd to say the least. Nothing much happens in this movie, but there again nothing much happens in most Truffaut movies. But it is still gripping as its predecesor. I was gagging for the next installment after seeing it. What will become of our lying, cheating, inadeqaute hero Antoine.

The final installment came in 1979 "L'Amour en fuite" (Love on the run). Now in his thirties and divorced from Christine. The movie uses flashbacks from the previous 4 parts. He is in love now with Sabine a record seller. Antoine is a proofreader.

You can now buy a DVD collection of the 5 movies. Not cheap but my credit card is itching to see them again.

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