Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Directed by Francois Truffaut and written by Truffaut, Claude de Givray, and Bernard Revon, Baisers voles (Stolen Kisses) is the story of Antoine Doinel’s life as he becomes part of a private detective agency where he deals with his relationship with a young woman while falling for the wife of a man he‘s investigating. The film is the third part of the Antoine Doinel story as Jean-Pierre Leaud plays the character for the third time in this exploration of love and adulthood. Also starring Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig, and Michael Lonsdale. Baisers voles is a marvelous yet witty film from Francois Truffaut.
After a dishonorable discharge from the army, Antoine Doinel struggles to return to normal life as he is desperate to find work and re-establish contact with his girlfriend Christine (Claude Jade). With the help of Christine’s father (Daniel Ceccaldi), Antoine gets a job as a concierge at a hotel where things seemed to go well until he lets a couple of men who were trying to break into a room. The incident left Antoine without a job as one of the men he meets in Monsieur Henri (Harry-Max) is a private detective. Antoine gets a job at the private detective agency where he works to tail people and make reports about those he’s investigating. While it does create some problems with his time with Christine, Antoine also has trouble trying to keep up with his work.
When he’s asked to investigate the a shoe sales manager (Michael Lonsdale), Antoine works as a stock boy for the investigation where he meets and falls for the manager’s wife Fabienne (Delphine Seyrig). Antoine tries to deal with his issues with Christine as he’s also being pursued by Fabienne where he goes into conflict over what to do. Eventually, trouble would arrive as Antoine ponders about his own place in the world as well as his feelings for Christine.
When a young man reaches into adulthood as he tries to find out the world of love and identity, it becomes a very confusing place to be in. For Antoine Doinel, it’s much more complicated as he had just find himself ousted from the army for not fitting in. After his post-military life, he deals with trying to find his place in the world as he also wants to pursue a relationship with a young woman he cares about but things aren’t going very well. Once he takes a job as a private detective as he’s investigating a shoe sales manager, he finds himself being attracted to the man’s wife as it creates more complications about his ideas on love and the world in general.
The screenplay explores the world of love and life as it is a film that is part-mystery and part-comedy as it continues Antoine Doinel’s misadventures into the world. The film starts off with Doinel at a military prison where it’s very clear that he seems out of place in that world as once he re-enters society, he has no idea what he’s doing or where he’s going. Even the hookers he encounters just after he leaves the military has him confused by their new rules. His relationship with Christine is a friendly one as they don’t really act upon their romance as she’s always out and he is naïve in trying to push their relationship forward. Upon his time working as a detective where he would meet Fabienne, it would give him a much broader understanding about love while he also goes into his own internal conflicts about his work. Francois Truffaut and his co-writers create a character who is just coming into his own as a young adult as he’s also aware that he still has a lot of growing up to do.
Truffaut’s direction is brilliant for the way he presents the story as he definitely aims for a sense of style as he would shoot scenes on locations in Paris while playing to the crazed world that Antoine is in. Truffaut does create some amazing shots with striking compositions to play out the sense of Antoine’s sense of confusion as well as the world of being a private detective. Even by utilizing hand-held cameras and wide shots to create the sense of mystery as there’s Antoine often tailing someone or a mysterious man (Serge Rousseau) following Christine.
The direction of the film also explores the world of love as Truffaut does create stylish montages to establish Antoine’s naiveté where the film’s second half as a looser feel. Even in a scene where Antoine’s boss (Andre Falcon) is fighting against a client where Antoine tries to intervene leading to all sorts of craziness. Antoine’s moments with Fabienne are tense and calm as it revels in Fabienne’s experience with love as Truffaut always has the camera fixated on Fabienne. The film’s final moments does have some revelations while it also reveals that Antoine has just taken some major steps into the world of adulthood. Overall, Truffaut creates a very compelling film about growing up.
Cinematographer Denys Clerval does excellent work with the film‘s colorful yet vibrant cinematography to capture the beauty of the Parisian locations as well as some of the interiors to display the different worlds that Antoine is encountering. Editor Agnes Guillemot does superb work with the editing by utilizing stylish cuts such as montages and jump-cuts to play with the film‘s rhythm and its structure. Production designer Claude Pignot does terrific work with the set pieces such as the shoe store and the detective agency that Antoine works at.
The sound work of Rene Levert is wonderful for the intimacy that is created in some sparse moments in some of the film‘s locations as well as the raucous world of the agency where there‘s a lot of calls and such. The film’s music by Antoine Duhamel is sublime for its serene and playful orchestral score to capture the energy of Antoine’s misadventures. The film’s soundtrack includes the song Que reste-t-il de nos amour? by Charles Trenent that opens and closes the film as it plays to the world of love.
The film’s ensemble cast is fantastic for the actors that are hired for this film as it features some notable appearances from Serge Rousseau as the mysterious man who follows Christine, Harry-Max as the private detective who shows Antoine the ropes to be one, Andre Falcon as Antoine’s agency boss Monsieur Blady, Catherine Lutz as the private detective Catherine, Michael Lonsdale as the insecure shoe sales manager Georges Tabard, Daniel Ceccaldi and Claire Duhamel as Christine’s parents, Jean-Francois Adam as Albert Tazzi, and Marie-France Pisier as Antoine’s former girlfriend in Colette Tazzi. Delphine Seyrig is amazing as the evocative Fabienne Tabard as she creates a radiant presence that is intoxicating to watch as she tries to seduce Antoine. Claude Jade is wonderful as the more reserved Christine who tries to deal with Antoine’s new life as well as trying to keep him at arm’s length over his attempt to woo her.
Finally, there’s Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel as he makes Doinel a much more confused person in trying to re-establish contact with society and love as there’s also a great sense of humor in Leaud’s performance. Leaud also adds a moment of restraint in the way Doinel tries to come to terms with his choices as he eventually reveals his frustrations about how Christine tries to push him away when all he wants to do is love her.
Baisers voles is a remarkable film from Francois Truffaut that features Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel. Along with amazing supporting work from Claude Jade and Delphine Seyrig, it’s a film that explores the world of early adulthood and the struggle to find an identity in that world. It’s also a film that explores Doinel’s fascination with love as he tries to ponder what to do as a man. In the end, Baisers voles is an extraordinary film from Francois Truffaut.
Francois Truffaut Films: The 400 Blows - Shoot the Piano Player - Jules and Jim - Antoine and Colette - The Soft Skin - Fahrenheit 451 - The Bride Wore Black - Mississippi Mermaid - The Wild Child - Bed and Board - Two English Girls - Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me - Day for Night - The Story of Adele H. - Small Change - The Man Who Loved Women - The Green Room - Love on the Run - The Last Metro - The Woman Next Door - Confidentially Yours
(The Auteurs #40: Francois Truffaut (Pt. 1) - (Pt. 2))
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