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Stolen Kisses [Blu-ray]
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Filmed in 1968 during political turbulence in France which culminated in the Paris riots, this is ironically one of Truffaut's most playful and lighthearted films. The third in a series featuring Truffaut's cinematic alter-ego Antoine Doinel, which began with 'Les Quatre Cents Coups', it follows Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) who, having received a dishonourable discharge from the army at the age of 20, works his way through a series of unsatisfactory jobs, as well as a number of transient relationships.
Stolen Kisses reunites François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud to catch up with Truffaut's cinematic alter ego, Antoine Doinel, the troubled adolescent of The 400 Blows. Stolen Kisses opens with the now-grown Doinel sprung from military prison with a dishonourable discharge, drawn directly from Truffaut's own history of delinquency, but the parallels end there. Lovesick Doinel woos the perky but unresponsive object of his affections, Christine (Claude Jade) while he engages in a series of professions--hotel night-watchman, private investigator, TV repairman--with mixed success and comic entanglements. But when he falls in love with the elegant wife of his client (Delphine Seyrig at her most beautiful and charming), Christine realises she misses Antoine's persistence and clumsy passes, so she embarks on a seductive plan of her own. Truffaut's comic confection is full of deadpan gags and screwball chaos, a world away from the heavy seriousness of The 400 Blows, and Léaud is endearingly naive as the determined Doinel, forging ahead with more pluck and passion than aptitude. It may be Truffaut's most sweetly romantic film, a knowing man's embrace of eager innocence and storybook sentiment. Doinel returned two years later in Bed and Board. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the DVD edition.
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He gets his big chance when he lucks into a job with a private detective agency. After some mishaps he is called upon to take a job (within a job, as it were) at a shoe store to find out why the owner is not liked. There he meets the owner's wife, Fabienne Tabard, played by Delphine Seyrig (Last Year at Marienbad 1961; The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie 1972, etc.). He is immediately smitten by her. In typical French cinematic fashion it is not clear whether she is a goddess or a maternal figure for the thoroughly bewitched Antoine.
Meanwhile there is Christine Darbon (Claude Jade) who plays Antoine's real love interest. What makes this film so thoroughly agreeable is Truffaut's light-hearted wit and his studious avoidance of cliche in a genre (the romantic comedy) in which cliches abound. The humor is often tongue-in-cheek, and as subtle as a diplomat's compliment. Leaud's charm and his oh so earnest style make him the perfect foil for life's little jokes. Along the way detective agencies are satirized as are its clientele, including a guy who wants his magician boyfriend tailed only to find that he is--horrors!--married, or the aforementioned shoe haberdasher who hires a private eye (not a shrink!) to find out why he is not beloved.
Bottom line: see this for Francois Truffaut, whose keen sense of humanity's foibles and unique style, sometimes playful and sometimes penetrating, have made him one of cinema's greatest directors.
The blu ray transfer courtesy of Artificial Eye is quite good!