out and about in 1960’s paris

In light of Marie-France Pisier’s tragic, unexpected passing last year, we pulled out Antoine et Colette (François Truffaut, 1962), which I had not seen.  It’s a lovely, wryly observed little film, though clearly the emphasis is on Antoine at the expense of the kohl-eyed Colette, who remains an enigma to both Antoine and the viewer.  This is Léaud at his most beautiful but also Antoine at his most unformed, and it was enlightening to see the awkward transition phase the character undergoes between Les quatres cent coup and Baisers vóles.  But if it’s primarily remembered as an essential moment in the Antoine Doinel mythology, it’s also an exquisitely rendered portrait of certain time and place–Paris, early 1960’s–and the spaces both public (theater lobbies), private (the shabby hotel rooms Antoine holes up in) and those suspended somewhere in between (the supremely funny moments around the family dinner table at Colette’s house) that the pre-political, pre-68′ Parisian youth culture inhabited and came of age in.  A wonderful little transitional moment in Truffaut’s career–I’m not sure if any other films exhibit such a low-key, spontaneous charm.

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