The Salads of Love

The visit of actor Jean-Pierre Léaud is an extraordinary event. Some of the films that will be screened as a tribute to him include The 400 Blows and Stolen Kisses, where he plays Antoine Doinel. Here's a profile of that mythical character from Truffaut's films. 




The adventures of Antoine Doinel end with our hero kissing his girlfriend Sabine in the record shop where she works, as we hear the soundtrack of Alain Souchon's beautiful song "L'Amour en fuite" that gives the film its title (or maybe the film gives it to the song?), while another couple is also kissing inside one of the listening cabins. Truffaut alternates between Antoine and Sabine kissing with shots from one of the few absolutely happy moments in The 400 Blows –Truffaut's first film, Jean-Pierre Léaud's debut, the introduction of the Antoine Doinel character, and many other features that turned the film into a historical landmark. It's the moment when Antoine ditches school with his friend René, and climbs onto an amusement park ride that spins fast enough for the centripetal force to do its thing. Truffaut repeats this alternation a couple of times and then leaves the "archive footage" aside to make a high-speed panning between the two couples kissing as the end credits roll. It's a luminous moment and a perfect closure for this Truffautian journey through the life of his alter ego, which began in 1959 and ended twenty years later, leaving four unforgettable feature-length films and one short.


Love on the Run (1970) is the strangest among all Doinel films. In fact, quite a few people consider it to be little more than a rehash of the previous films, with some additions "to justify it". But that view fails to consider the following: the flashbacks to previous films were something that had already started in the second Doinel installment, Antoine and Colette (1962), and it's a film in which Doinel himself remembers his life up to that point. Also, a big portion of the film is about The Salads of Love, an autobiographical novel Antoine started to write in Bed and Board (1970) –its metanarrative is that Doinel's story was born out of Truffaut's own experiences, hence the remakes become totally justifiable. 


This last installment relates to the first one, as they are the saddest and most bitter stories of the saga, with Doinel in an almost constant state of desperation. In the rest of the films, which include the short film Antoine and Colette, Stolen Kisses (1968), and Love on the Run, there is an melancholic aftertaste –something inevitable in a character like Doinel– the tone is much more relaxed, playful, even happy. Doinel may suffer heartbreak after heartbreak, or he may not know what to do with his life, but the truth is that those three films are the kind you want to live in, and they feature some of the most beautiful moments in the history of cinema, like the scene in Bed and Board where Doinel calls Jean Eustache from a pay phone to tell him he just had a kid.  





The 400 Blows, directed by François Truffaut - SUN 11 - 15:30 - AUD

Stolen Kisses, directed by François Truffaut - THU 15 - 17:15 - AUD



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