Friday, July 10, 2009

Stolen Kisses (1968)

By Eric Jessen 7/10/09

If you watch Stolen Kisses expecting the same Antoine Doinel and the same Jean-Pierre Leaud and even the same Francois Truffaut from The 400 Blows, as I was, you will be sorely disappointed. But let's put that movie behind us, I'll put that disappointing experience behind me. Let's think of this as a new Antoine. Let's step back and judge Stolen Kisses against all other movies we've seen, the trash and the masterpieces. If we do that, than Stolen Kisses is not half bad. If you think of Stolen Kisses as “just another movie” when you enter the theater (that plays old foreign movies, yeah right), or when you pop in the DVD, you might even enjoy it. It can be quite funny. You won't be falling out of your chair or anything, but you might chuckle. I did once or twice. As romantic comedies go, it's cute, but not too cute to make you want to throw up.
In Stolen Kisses Antoine has grown up a little. He's learned the whimsical, foolish lover, routine. We meet Antoine as he's just dropping out of the army. He's thrilled to be back in Paris. The first thing he does is skip to the nearest whore house. He's quite a rascal. He uses his boyish good looks to get several jobs including one working for a private detective agency. Antoine comes across a few women throughout the movie, most notably, Fabienne (Delphine Syrig) who's a sexy middle aged woman, and a previous love Christine (Claude Jade). They run around, and blah blah blah he ends up with the nice one.
There is really not much to tell about Stolen Kisses. It has its funny moments. If you love young people, you'd probably enjoy these kids' charades. Claude Jade's dumbfounded look can be adorable. She looks like a tame version of Catherine Deneuve. And Delphine Syrig is a pleasant surprise. But with Stolen Kisses there is one crucial point I need to make. What happened to Jean-Pierre Leaud? There was so much fire in his eyes in The 400 Blows (sorry to bring that movie up). His so called acting can only be described in this movie as cute but incredibly flimsy. It's impossible to take him seriously. And I know this is not supposed to be a serious movie, but it's like John Stewart or Jimmy Fallen, when they look like they're about to break character any second the act isn't funny. It doesn't allow us to “suspend disbelief.” Jacques Tati as Mr. Hulot, who makes an appearance in another Antoine movie Love on the Run, or Charlie Chaplin put 100 percent effort and seriousness into their comedy. That's why they're so funny. But, oh well, I'll put that behind me too.
So hey, there's this movie by Francois Truffaut staring Jean-Pierre Leaud. He plays a kid named Antoine Doinel, ever heard of him?.... No..... Good, go see it, it's not half bad.

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