The 400 Blows

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Now revived, The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups) François Truffaut’s semi-autobiographical 1959 debut is one of the French new wave’s most accessible and best-loved films.

Jean-Pierre Léaud is Antoine, a tearaway kid perpetually in trouble both in school and at home: his troubled family circumstances are only revealed at the very end – a cool narrative coup. The film looks superb and Antoine’s heartbreakingly open face is like Truffaut’s monochrome Paris: beautiful, tough, innocent and yet worldly.

The emergence of the French New Wave 50 years ago was a triumph of self-promotion. But its influence and achievement were immense, and this was its first peak, and one of its highest. The title means “raising hell”, and seeing it claims Philip French for The Guardian “would raise any cinematically inclined Lazarus from his seat or his grave. It exudes exuberance, has one of the great juvenile performances, one of the greatest ever final shots, and is a movie that like exercise and wine should be taken regularly.” (Available on Netflix)

 

The Guardian

 

 

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~ by eaesthete on 04/18/09.

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