18Mar12 – 3 – Baisers volés (François Truffaut: 1968)
God knows I’ve tried to like François Truffaut but it hasn’t happened yet. I hoped maybe STOLEN KISSES (Baisers volés, 1968) would convince me I’m wrong about him, but it didn’t. It’s a shapeless collection of unfunny sight gags, jokes that misfire, dialogue that goes nowhere, wacky characters, pointless scenes that don’t work yet drag on for way too long: it just goes on and on and I find it charmless. Truffaut’s directing here is as sloppy as I’ve ever experienced it. Actors occasionally fumble with props or appear to have blanked on a line or bit of business but the take was allowed into the final cut for no apparent reason. Truffaut’s eye for pictorial composition is lazy and inexact as if he hadn’t bothered to think about what he wanted to film before he set the film rolling. Closeups happen when the camera gets close to thing being filmed; wide shots are just that; a pan is just the camera moving; and Truffaut repeats an effect that had real impact in his first film but here looks like an editorial decision made on the cheap in the editing room: instead of a sustained stationary shot of a building to a count of 5 or 6 or 10, he freeze frames the image for the same amount of time. Instead of asking us to look carefully at a building, we’re being invited to contemplate that building as if time had stopped at that precise moment. I can’t imagine that’s what Truffaut was after with that effect here.
I mentally dropped my score for this flick to a 2 at the unexplained and whimsical (I don’t do whimsy) sight of two children in a shoe store, at night, wearing Laurel and Hardy masks. I’m not giving this flick a score quite that low for two reasons: the sequence where we follow a letter dropped into the pneumatiques communication network (seriously neato stuff) and Charles Trenet singing “Que reste-t-il de nos amours” under the opening and closing credits. 3/10. The lowest 3 I’ll ever give to anything. [3/18/12]