Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Soft Skin

Le Peau Douce (The Soft Skin), 1964
Dir: Francois Truffaut
December 7, 2009

It's Hitchcock meets New Wave in the film that basically threw Francois Truffaut's rocketing star back to earth, and in a sense, ruined his big-time movie career (but not his reputation). Let me say this: this should not have ruined his movie career. People were expecting something else, considering the lighter and more whimsical tones of his earlier films, but this was consistent throughout and helps make it a pretty good film. Watching it now, it seems like a lot of other adultery pieces that I've seen, but in 1964, I'm not sure how audiences would have handled it. Europeans I would have thought would be OK with it, but maybe it was always just one of those unsaid things that was tolerated but never brought up. The film is about a family man and famous lecturer from Paris, Pierre (Jean Desailly) who falls for young stewardess Nicole (Francoise Dorleac) (seriously though, who wouldn't?) when he goes to talk about "Balzac and money" in Lisbon. The typical awkward situations come up over how he is going to hide his infidelity and lead a double life, and then when he is gone for more than one day his wife (Nelly Bennedeti) starts to get suspicious. Just when you think that Pierre might have gotten his way (getting a divorce from his wife, but sleeping with her one last time, and then moving to a new place with Nicole and contemplating a new marriage) his plans fall apart as Nicole realizes that she's 22 and doesn't want all that yet. There are basically 2 endings and that is one of them, which works fairly well and could have ended the film. The second one, at the very end, is crazy but kind of stupid. The whole vibe of the film is very Hitchcock, from the score to the pacing and even characters watching each other. Seriously, when Pierre watches Nicole dance I'm pretty sure I know exactly how he feels. And there was no phony voice-over, which is awesome. In the end though, it's just that, not quite a "genre" piece but something that feels less Truffaut and is more about his love of Hitchcock, which was immense, with a New Wave twist. Decent.


No comments: