La peau douce (1964)
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Well, chalk me up as somebody who really enjoyed this film, then. I didn't think it was drawn out in the slightest. It's just an interesting mixture of the fast-paced energy of young Truffaut with the introspection and sometimes fatalism of the older Truffaut. Not his best, but still a really worthwhile film.
We're told Truffault was deep into Hitchcock when he made La peau douce (The Soft Skin) and it shows, but it's not "Truff doing Hitch". Rather, it's a subversion of Hitchcock's style and tropes, replacing murder with (pretty mundane) adultery. It's all there. The paranoia, the suspense, the obsessive attention to procedural detail, the sense that the protagonist's life is veering out of control despite his best-laid plans, intriguing mirroring... and you're never quite sure if and when the "thriller" will assert itself. It's pretty brilliant actually. Truffault doesn't lose Truffault in the process either. La peau douce is still a great character study, a portrait of a weak man who can't quite figure out how to lead a double life and gets into situations because he can't say no, buoyed by a certain narcissism thanks to kind of celebrity you could only imagine of Europe (he's an expert on literature and the girls swoon!). The innocuous Jean Desailly is perfectly cast, and Françoise Dorléac - as usual a ringer for Catherine Deneuve, you can tell why Demy cast them as sisters in The Young Girls of Rocherfort - gives a rich performance as the woman he loves. If SHE had been the protagonist, I think we could have seen the same theme - of letting things get out of control - play out from her point of view.
I love Truffaut. He had so many more movies in him.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #49 in Time Out's The 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #388 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000
This movie ranks #520 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #890 in The Criterion Collection