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LOVE ON THE RUN

France, 1978 (MIFF 1980, Programme 8)

Director: François Truffaut

Francois Truffaut first came to the attention of the filmworld and filmgoing public when, in his first feature, he told the story of the childhood and early adolescence of Antoine Doinel (The 400 Blows) Truffaut's career now spans nineteen feature films and four shorts, on his own count, as well as a number of productions and scripts for other directors.

In that span of feature film making, now more than twenty years long, he has returned to the life of Antoine Doinel on four occasions and Love On The Run is the latest and, reputedly, the last, in the series.

The following notes are extracts from a longer review by Julian Jebb in "Sight and Sound".

"A man in his early thirties, that day finally divorced, takes his son to the station to send him off on a school camping holiday. In order to carry out this assignment he has had to give up a date with his latest girl friend. From a tram standing at the opposite platform a beautiful woman (perhaps a girl still?) smiles and waves her recognition: she flaps a copy of the young man's only published novel, called Les Salades d Amour. He is exquisitely flattered. He turns to his son with a parting word of advice 'Always be nice to girls '. The trains draw out of the station simultaneously. He hesitates a moment and, like a twentieth century D'Artagnan, he leaps aboard the train containing the girl who is reading his novel Antoine Doinel is in flight...

"Love on the Run, said to be the last of the series, has individual scenes which no other director in the history of the cinema could achieve with such elegant, heart-stopping, comic authority. He also uses flashbacks from the previous films with an exemplary tact and skill. Antoine has been through a lot since he stared out at us, without accusation or pity, in the last, famous frozen frames of Les Quatre Cents Coups. The moment when cinema changed. There's a shot of him in the new movie tearing down a parapet, as one of his girls says, with exasperated wryness: He's always running — he hasn't changed.'

"This is true of Doinel, but not of Truffaut. Doinel has married, had a son, chased innumerable girls, published one novel and held down his job as a proof-reader in a printing press, meanwhile his creator has directed some twenty films, the majority of them masterpieces. The gap in achievement, and by implication in imagination, is perilously large. For all the tenderness and objectivity which Truffaut allows his hero, Doinel remains little more than a posturing, skirt-chasing, pretentious man - a nightmare Parisian whose arrogance is coated in self-pity. Nor, curiously, does he show any of the conventionally neurotic signs of a child who has suffered in the way we saw in Les Quatre Cents Coups. His only insecurity seems to be the highly conventional one of possessing a well developed libido. He is bourgeois through and through, on the evidence of his majestically humane and varied films, Truffaut is not like that...

"Over the years, in the hospitality of these pages. I have written quite a lot about the director I consider the greatest alive He is the Mozart of film: a man whose work is so upliftingly, accurately surprising both on its ceaselessly charming surface and in its delicate depths, that criticism really seems futile. The fact that to my mind Love on the Run is not as perfect as some other works is like complaining that La Clemenza di Tito is not a masterpiece on the scale of The Marriage of Figaro. Or, to put it another way, and to quote Truffaut's cinematic (and spiritual) godfather Jean Renoir, one doesn't like part of a man's work, one likes it, and that's that."

Francois Truffaut — Born 1932

Short films - Une Visite (1955), Les Mistons (1958), Histoire d eau (1959, with Jean-Luc Godard). Antoine et Colette (1962).

Feature films — The Four Hundred Blows (1959). Shoot the Pianist (1960), Jules and Jim (1961), Soft Skin (1964), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Bride Wore Black (1967), Stolen Kisses (1968), Mississippi Mermaid (1969). Wild Child (1970). Bed and Board (1970), Two English Girls/Anne and Muriel (1971), A Gorgeous Bird Like Me (1972), Day for Night (1973), The Story of Adele H (1975), Small Change (1976), The Man Who Loved Women (1 977). The Green Room (1978), Love on the Run (1979), The Last Metro (in production) (1980)

See also...

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THE WILD CHILD

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The Boiled Egg

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