Unrated, 1 hr. 37 min. Directed By: François Truffaut. Release Date: Nov 16, 1959. DVD Release Date: Mar 24, 1998.
The 400 Blows sneaks up on you. It’s like that weird uncle or cousin that you in spite of its faults. It’s an almost stereotypical French tale: oppressive drama, events that seem unusual, but no one else seems to think so, and random casual bits of sexuality. It’s a tale that in some ways mirrors my own life. There’s an overbearing mother, a stepdad that waffles between friend and parent, some rebellion in the face of that authority (some rebellion from me, lots from Antoine). I waited until long past 12 to finally blow up, but I guess it was healthier in some ways for Antoine to wreck his future for the sake of his present.
I have a single real problem with this movie. There’s no conflict. None. Antoine doesn’t even get in a schoolyard fistfight. The mood is troubled and pensive, but there doesn’t seem to be a cause. I’m thinking that some of the problems Antoine faces are solved in future installments of Truffaut’s saga. At least, I hope so, because I plan on watching them all. The 400 Blows has the force to be some serious story bait. I’m putting a lot of energy behind that hope, because I really, really want to know how Antoine shapes up in his future. He was a messed up kid. Really messed up, but he isn’t really a bad kid. I kind of like this guy in a way I wouldn’t have expected to, given how the movie shapes up. It’s clear that he has regrets for the things he’s done, none of which are all that terrible, at least not by modern standards.
So I like the kid. Kind of a lot. He made me smile, and laugh a little. His antics are funny in that grade school way. His parents kind of suck in a neglectful way. He sleeps in a sleeping bag on what looks like a couch placed so close to the front door of the family apartment that everyone coming or going has to wake him up. It the front door wasn’t in an enclosed foyer, he’d be sleeping in the living room. He hasn’t become a soulless bastard that picks on those weaker than himself. He hasn’t murdered his parents and tried to explain it with “stress.” I wish his life was in a better place. He deserves… better than was his lot in life.
I’m wondering a little at the name of the film… and the posters suggest something that I didn’t see. Anyone know if the DVD version of The 400 Blows is edited to remove violence? The title could be metaphor. I do speak French; metaphor and I don’t get along so well… even though I use them a lot. It’s mostly OTHER peoples’ metaphors that I don’t get along so well with. Everything seems to suggest physical abuse from the parents, but I certainly didn’t see any of that.
I know I’ve been rambling, but here’s my synopsis: The 400 Blows is an interesting movie. I liked it, even though I think I’m not sure why. I like the lead role, he’s got character and… moxie, although that might be slightly redundant. I’m hoping the other movies in this saga help explain what I’m missing.