Antoine and Colette (1962) / Drama-Romance
aka Antoine et Colette
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audience (probably PG today for smoking)
Running time: 32 min.
Cast: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Marie-France Pisier, Francois Darbon, Rosy Varte, Patrick Auffay
Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut
Review published July 29, 2013
Antoine and Colette is a short semi-autobiographical film by Francois Truffaut (Jules and Jim, Shoot the Piano Player), set up as a sequel of sorts to his seminal full-length film, The 400 Blows. It is only 32 minutes long, as it was originally part of an multinational anthology romance film, Love at Twenty, though today, it is often shown separately due to its inclusion in the Antoine Doinel series of films.
The film starts with Antoine (Leaud, Irma Vep) now at 17 years old, a bit more responsible than he had been as a younger child, living out on his own in a Paris apartment, and his love of music (a substitute for Truffaut's love of films) finds him working for a record company stuffing albums and pressing records. In his spare time, Antoine enjoys listening to classical music, and is especially fond of the various concerts that appear regularly around the city. It is at one of these concerts that Antoine spots the lovely Colette (Pisier, Cousin Cousine), and after seeing her regularly at these events and around his own neighborhood, he eventually musters the courage to introduce himself, and the two become closer. However, angst begins to settle in as the perpetually noncommittal Colette runs hot and cold toward the possibility of taking things a step beyond friendship.
Truffaut here recounts his own experience meeting a young woman he would become infatuated with after seeing her in his regular visits to the cinema. Although not necessary to watch The 400 Blows to enjoy Antoine and Colette (but why would you deny yourself the pleasure?), those that love Truffaut and want to experience more adventures featuring the young runaway and how he coped with life after delinquency will find this follow-up to their liking. Though there are allusions to the events of the earlier film, it can still be enjoyed as a standalone piece. Truffaut employs some of his familiar style, including some voice-over narration and love of artistic observation.
While many Hollywood films are about the awkward young man who eventually wins over the local beauty through his kindness and friendship, I much prefer this more realistic portrayal about the difficulty and heartbreak of wanting to be in a reciprocally affectionate relationship with someone who clearly doesn't really know what she wants other than the occasional companionship. It's like trying to dance with someone who'd clearly prefer to stand still.
Antoine and Colette is about the folly of youth, with its crushes and fickleness, as teenagers often find attraction but don't have the experience to understand all of the feelings they're inundated with, or how to act upon them. Though it isn't a masterpiece, it is, nevertheless, a lovely and thoughtful slice of life short film, and well worth seeking out if you plan to enjoy Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series to its fullest extent.
-- Followed by Stolen Kisses.
©2013 Vince Leo