Thursday, September 11, 2008

"The 400 Blows" (1959, Dir: Francois Truffaut)

Probably the best film ever made about children, 'The 400 Blows' stands out because of its remarkable contemporaneity - all the more surprising and powerful considering it was made in 1959.

I find it harder to write reviews when I like the film in question, so this one will be short. The performances are excellent - Jean-Pierre Leaud delivers one of the most assured debuts I've ever seen in a film (I saw his screen test in the special features section of the DVD and was amused by how similar he was to his character). Albert Remy and Claire Maurier (she played the cafe owner in Amelie!), as the lead character's parents, provoke complex emotions in their roles. The other child thesps, including Patrick Auffay as Antoine's best friend, are refreshingly natural. There is a strange serenity in the way Leaud's harsh world is shot - it is as if we are seeing his story through a window, uncensored and unbiased. The story is undeniably about Antoine, but we are shown it from a third-person perspective - thus the problems that plagued films like "Thirteen", where the self-absorption of the teenage characters was reflected in the script, are thankfully absent here. The ending is haunting and powerful.

Lovely cinematography and an interesting score are other high points of this brilliant film.

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