5. The 400 Blows

In THE 400 BLOWS, François Truffaut’s first feature film and a milestone of the French New Wave, a young, stoic troublemaker named Antoine Doinel is pitted against the world. Even when he tries to do the right thing it tends to go wrong, and he is failed repeatedly by his uncaring teacher, his frustrated parents, and a misguided juvenile justice system. It sounds dark, but THE 400 BLOWS is sincere without being melodramatic. And the serious themes are punctuated by touching montages of friendship and boys-being-boys. What makes it all the more meaningful is knowing that Truffaut’s depiction of a difficult childhood is largely autobiographical. I look forward to seeing more of his alter ego Antoine, who appears in a number of his later films.


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