The 400 Blows-1959
Scott’s Review #88
Reviewed July 2, 2014
The 400 Blows is a French New Wave masterpiece from 1959 that is heartbreaking yet beautiful in its storytelling. It tells the story of Antoine, a kindhearted yet hardened teen boy who is forced out on his own to live a tough life on the streets of Paris. It is autobiographical of sorts as director Francois Truffaut suffered a childhood similar to the boy.
Misunderstood and mistreated by his parents and schoolteachers, Antoine must survive and thrive as a teenage runaway who cannot get a break in life. Shot in Paris and featuring gorgeous shots of the city, the black and white filming add to the bleakness and coldness of this young boy’s life and Truffaut was the first to use the since common still-frame close-up of angst and the scenes of Antoine running from the city along the beach are some of the most beautiful in film history.
Truffaut influenced a generation of directors with his very personal brand of storytelling. The 400 Blows is not always a pleasant film, but an important and influential one in art cinema. Young actor Jean-Pierre Leaud gives an excellent performance.
Oscar Nominations: Best Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen