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The Soft Skin [La Peau Douce] [1964] [DVD]

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Jean Desailly, Nelly Benedetti, Francoise Dorleac, Daniel Ceccaldi, Laurence Badie
  • Directors: François Truffaut
  • Writers: François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen, Mono
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Feb. 2007
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KF0WV2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,698 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Hitchcock-influenced thriller from director Francois Truffaut. Pierre (Jean Desailly) is a married, middle-aged author who begins an affair with an air stewardess (Francoise Dorleac) while on a lecture tour in Portugal. However, when his wife discovers his infidelity, she becomes consumed with a desire for revenge. The DVD has a 12 certificate due to the extras.


The Soft Skin, from one of the Nouvelle Vague's most prolific directors, Francois Truffaut, is a brilliant classic replete with intrigue, emotion, and stunning imagery. This dissection of an affair between successful publisher and novelist Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly), and airline stewardess Nicole (Francoise Dorleac), begins on Lachenay's trip to Lisbon for a lecture, On the airplane he watches, enraptured, as Nicole changes out of her work shoes and into sexy, sling-back pumps. From there, his lust for her only grows, and he begins a deeply involved affair with her that continues back in Paris. Meanwhile Lachenay's perfect bourgeoise wife, Franca (Nelly Benedetti) is entertaining friends and playing with their cute five-year-old daughter, Sabine (Sabine Haudepin), seemingly unaware of her husband's strange behaviour. But when Franca discovers that he's been cheating and may even be in love, she reacts irrationally. The Soft Skin's surprising finale is one of the most memorable in film history.

Perhaps it's Truffaut's attention to detail that builds so much tangible enotion into his films, The camera seems to skim over surfaces, examine the unattractive angles of people's faces, read street signs. In the car, the camera is riding in the back seat, but as the car speeds up, it's pressed against the windshield. In The Soft Skin, Truffaut expresses a precise emotion with each sequence. Viewers of the film are so often nervous because of the way that Lechenay's gaze flits around, blurring up the scenery, frantically. Then, when Lechenay is with his lover, Nicole, the light is bright, the gaze is steady, the mood is triumphant. In the final scenes, as the cobblestones of Parisian boulevards whizz by chaotically, we are reminded of the suspenseful clues given in Hitchcock movies, and we know what is about to happen. At once beautiful and hilariously observant, Truffaut's expressive visuals make The Soft Skin an inarguable masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
This film is a wonderful exploration of what it means to have an affair with someone and the consequences of that decision. Pierre Lachenay the central character begins an affair with an air hostess on a flight from Paris to Lisbon, the interesting thing about his relationship with the girl is that it is based not upon common ground (he is fascinated by literature, quite willing to discourse for hours in a cafe to her about it, she is not having not even read his books and only knowing him as a tv personality) but upon the excitement of mutual attraction. Truffaut realises that what Pierre really wants is not a soulmate, but a woman to enliven his life, a change. To write more about it would be to spoil it, and Pierre's choice comes back rightly to haunt him, leading him to acts of emotional cruelty towards his wife and to a brusqueness that eventually dooms him, but Truffaut here captures something of the quality of sudden love and also something of its blindnesses- in truth Pierre is less in love with Nicole than with an idea of Nicole. Altogether this film is remarkable because it tells you all this but remains subtle and thoughtful- if you are interested in human relationships and how they work and should work, this film will give you confirmation of how subtle and selfish the human heart and mind can be.
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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2007
Format: DVD
La Peau Douce/The Soft Skin is a very pleasant surprise indeed. There's a tendency in much of Truffaut's later work to be over-literate, often throwing in narration that plays more like a prose recital than thought or dialog to convey what he should be doing without it, but there's none of that here. Instead, its illicit romance is told in purely cinematic terms and telling details and, despite the potentially hackneyed material, plays beautifully, whether its the title sequence of two hands caressing in the darkness, a mix-up with room keys as a prelude to seduction or the kitten and the breakfast tray that would make such a memorable comeback in Day for Night.

There's humor and humanity there too, and the hero's painful fallibility on his disastrous dirty weekend in Reihms is one of the great don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-to-cry moments. The ending seems a bit contrived and unlikely despite being based on an actual incident, but he somehow manages to pull that off too.

Sadly, while the previous UK DVD issue from Tartan included archive interviews with Truffaut and Francois Dorleac, these have been dropped for Cinema Club's DVD, although it does includes an excellent commentary from co-writer Jean-Louis Richard.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I agree with most of the other reviews - this is Truffaut at his best, or close to it, and shows almost all the skills he acquired from Hitchcock, not least casting. Francoise Dorleac ( who was Deneuve's elder sister, and who died tragically) inhabits this fragile sixties world as few others have, and Desailly, with minimum change of facial expression, instantly embodies self-importance and vulnerability. But this is the worst black and white DVD transfer I have ever seen - unstable in contrast, focus, and failing even to maintain constant black or white within a single scene. I saw the original UK release in the cinema. This is a travesty.
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Format: DVD
Truffaut filmed La Peau Douce immediately after the international success of Jules at Jim. Released at the heyday of the nouvelle vague, critics and audiences panned the film as a futile resort to bourgeois classicism after the unconventional antics of his previous masterwork.
They could not have been more mistaken. Time has treated La Peau Douce better than most of his later efforts. It is definitely a triumph of direction with each scene being carefully planned and meticulously structured, not unlike a Hitchcock movie. In practise, Truffaut transposes Hitchcock's mechanisms of suspense into a seemingly trivial story concerning the illicit love affair of a distinguished editor/author with a younger stewardess and its withering consequences. The characters and the milieu of the story are effortless evoked, but the main joy is derived from the visual inventiveness that Truffaut shows in scene after scene. It's a triumph of a purely cinematic mode of expression, which Truffaut was one of the few who had really mastered it.
The DVD does full justice to the film with its excellent transfer and its very insightful commentary (in French with English subtitles).
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