The 400 Blows (1959) / Drama
aka Les Quatre Cents Coups
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for themes
Running Time: 99 min.
Cast: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Remy, Guy Decomble, Jeanne Moreau (cameo), Jacque Demy (cameo), Francois Truffaut (cameo)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut, Marcel Moussy
Review published March 28, 1997
The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) is the touching story of a young boy (Leaud, Day for Night) in Paris who is having a hard time staying out of trouble. His parents aren't interested in him, while school life is suffering, becoming so unbearable to him that he runs away from home. He turns to a life of petty crime, but once caught, his parents feel they can no longer control him. They reluctantly send him to correctional institutions where he receives even less of the love and attention he so desperately needs.
The 400 Blows is a beautifully directed slice-of-life film by Francois Truffaut (Fahrenheit 451, Jules et Jim), and the first of his semi-autobiographical Antoine Doinel series. Appropriately enough for a first film, there isn't a conventional sense of closure to the ending.
If there's a flaw in the film, I'm very hard-pressed to find one. The 400 Blows is often funny, very smart, endearing, and yet quite sad. Even though it has no overall plot, it remains captivating entertainment. A tour-de-force of filmmaking by Truffaut, and very highly recommended for all French cinema fanatics.
-- Further Truffaut "Antoine Doinel" films include Love at Twenty: Antoine and Colette (1962), Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed & Board (1970), and Love on the Run (1979).
©1997 Vince Leo