Truffaut Double Bill: Les mistons & Antoine et Colette

Les mistons (François Truffaut, 1957)

François Truffaut’s first film, a brilliant homage to Jean Vigo’s Zéro de conduite about childhood, first and impossible love. The breezy approach, the smooth narration, the comic relief of the kids, the first moments of François Truffaut’s “mise en scène”, the sad denouement, and the bitter sweet conclusion of this short makes it a masterpiece of its own. Hugely overlooked because of the incomparable success of Les 400 coups, Truffaut’s Les mistons deserves way much praise than it actually received. Evoking his sensibility and his subtle humour, this 1957 short offers the critic’s first opportunity to make a film, the medium he is passionate about.

Antoine et Colette [segment of L’amour à vingt ans] (François Truffaut, 1962)

The first segment of L’amour à vingt ans, a film « porte-manteau » co-directed by Renzo Rossellini, Andrzej Wajda, Shinoda Imamura, and Marcel Ophüls, Antoine et Colette is a sequel to Les 400 coups (1959) and the prequel to Baisers volés (1968).

We are catching up with Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), now seventeen and out of a reform school. He is working at Phillips, making records and living like an adult in his apartment. Doinel has made for himself a solitary life with one friend. Shortly, he’ll meet Colette and quickly fall in love with her. However, Colette doesn’t return his advances and she considers him as only a friend. Doinel will be almost adopted by Colette’s parents and he’ll even move in an apartment facing theirs. Their relationship is almost like if it was a family recomposed. For Doinel, this is like the parents he never had and it gives him the opportunity to spend more time with Colette.

This short will give the rhythm to the rest of the Antoine Doinel cycle. This quirky character, naive at times and childish at other moments will have to face the adult life he always wanted to live. Meanwhile, all his life he’ll be acting like a child, the Doinel of Les 400 coups that wanted to be an adult as fast as possible will always have to struggle to understand the world of adults. Antoine et Colette is the perfect link between Les 400 coups and Baisers volés. The melancholy and sadness that the Doinel films own and the bitter sweet savoury touch of the situations will be one of the trademarks of Truffaut/Léaud.

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