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Bed & Board (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on January 26, 2013

Here again we pick up the thread of Antoine’s slow maturation, a couple of years after Stolen Kisses.  He’s somewhat settled down into married life, although his occupation — dyeing flowers — is more bizarre than ever.  Two events shake him up… switching careers to the pointless and mundane steering of model boats for an American firm, and the arrival of a baby.  Although there isn’t a direct connection made, these things seem to set his eye wandering, at least enough for him to initiate an affair with the exotic Kyoko (Hiroko Berghauer).  But soon he longs for the comfortable domestic life again.

Prior to this revisit, I considered this the best of Doinel sequels, but now I’m more in the Stolen Kisses camp.  I have to be careful not to overstate this, because I do think it’s a wonderful film.  But I must admit there are points that feel a bit sluggish and uneventful.  Like Doinel, Truffaut seems to be settling down a little.  His most exciting work is from 1959 to 1968.  Starting with Mississippi Mermaid, his output becomes more spotty and less captivating.

But let’s not get too critical here.  There are some great elements here.  Léaud is of course the main attraction, and his characterization of Doinel is as enjoyable as ever.  You can’t help but root for this guy, even when he’s being an ass.  The strange jobs are fantastic.  The references to Monsieur Hulot and Last Year at Marienbad are a delightful perk for a cinephile.  Then there’s the guy who keeps borrowing more and more money until Doinel finally cuts him off (see, he does learn… eventually).  Almendros’s photography is lovely, and one shouldn’t overlook Claude Jade, who completely holds her own with Léaud.  As I said before, the film is something like a lighthearted version of Scenes from a Marriage, and Truffaut’s way of constructing a community of memorable characters feels like a definite influence on Jeunet.

So if I’m downgrading my score a bit and lowering the film a few notches in the Truffaut canon, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that I no longer appreciate it.  It just doesn’t have quite as much life in it as its predecessors.  Rating: Very Good (85)


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