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Stolen Kisses (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on January 26, 2013

Maybe a little light on substance, but Truffaut (and Léaud) more than makes up for it with charm.  Doinel is a few years older, but only slightly closer to maturity.  We see him stumble through a variety of jobs.  Dishonorably discharged from the military for constantly going AWOL.  He holds down a job as a night clerk at a hotel for… is it one day?  It’s not clear, and in his defense, he got fired over something not really his fault.  As a detective, he’s okay at gathering information but hilariously inept at shadowing anyone.  He’s either too self-aware or not self-aware enough… or both.  His shoe store stockroom gig is just a cover job for a case, but he’s pretty bad at that, too.  Lastly, as an emergency television repairman, he’s both a lousy driver and apparently not good at the repairing televisions bit either.

But maybe — just maybe — he’s learning a bit about romance.  Torn between the lovely but perhaps too familiar and predictable Christine (Claude Jade) and the stunning, exotic (she can speak English!) wife of a client Fabienne (the always compelling Delphine Seyrig), he repeats their names in the mirror, as well as his own.  Maybe he’s seeking divine inspiration, or maybe he’s reducing all of their names to nonsense.  It’s one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

There are plenty of other memorable scenes, though.  I love how loosey-goosey this film is, just having fun.  A magician’s rope act.  A contemplative moment perched on top of shoe stacks.  A lot of amusing detective work (private detective being probably the movie-est of movie jobs, in more ways than one).  A pair of children wearing insane Laurel & Hardy masks.  A lesson in buttering your biscuit.

Throughout it all, Doinel struggles to find his place in society, and struggles to find his heart’s desires.  Inching towards adulthood but like most of us he’s fumbling with the same childlike uncertainty, ineptitude, irresponsibility… and daydreams.  Léaud is delightful as usual, and the supporting cast is a ton of fun as well.  Lovingly dedicated to Langlois after his being fired from the Cinémathèque, and a fine tribute it makes.  Charming, funny, silly, adorable.  Rating: Great (89)

IMDb
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