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The 400 Blows
aka - Quatre Cent Coups, Les
France 1959
Directed by Francois Truffaut
Running time 99 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Truffaut's debut feature film is deservedly a classic of French cinema and a Nouvelle Vague icon with the director's serendipitous visual style combining with a simple directness in telling the (semi-autobiographical) story of 12-year-old Antoine Doinel, a young man with a natural zest for living and a consequent knack for getting himself into trouble with adults, notably his parents and teachers.

Jean-Pierre Léaud who would make another four films with Truffaut (the short, Antoine and Colette, as well as feature length films Stolen Kisses, Bed And Board, Love On The Run) always playing the same character (he became the pin-up boy for the Nouvelle Vague, appearing for a variety of directors) is a remarkable performer but Truffaut flawlessly taps into whatever natural aptitude he has with a perfectly judged sensitivity to his perspective

Although running out of steam a little in latter stages, there are some wonderful moments such as a group of school children seen from above gradually absconding from their class excursion, a group of much younger children watching a puppet show, seen front on and Antoine on a fairground ride, that are simply magicalm making this one of the classic films about being a child.

 

 

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