400 Blows{Les quatre cents coups}

Why watch it: For the directorial work of François Truffaut. For the acting talent of Jean-Pierre Léaud who plays Antoine Doinel the delinquent school kid. For the story, which way back in 1959, provided insights into the troubled mind of a child moving towards crime {an issue that deserves attention even several decades later}.

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.

Cineaste365:  "The 400 Blows" - Fran...

Cineaste365: “The 400 Blows” – Francois Truffaut (October 30, 2013 – Day 018) (Photo credit: kndynt2099)

Story: Antoine, like others in his class, is involved in petty misdemeanors. But unlike others, he has a talent for getting quickly caught. The experience of punishments, fear of even harsher punishments, the encouragement in misadventure by a classmate who has it much easier, the disconnect from his parents, and the desire to escape his environs makes him do one wrong thing after another.

He can’t seem to fare well in school – he is at his wit’s end. He feels cut off from his parents and wants to leave his parent’s home but needs a permanent or at least a long-term solution. He has a tummy to feed and needs money for his needs. He wants to work but doesn’t know how to go about it. He has readied himself mentally for petty crimes like robbery but doesn’t seem to have the knack to be a success in it. The constant problems in the kid’s life and the oddness in his behavior are depicted very matter-of-fact, and no solution is presented. The movie closes with an open-ending showing the kid at an empty seashore. Perhaps the emptiness of that space personifies emptiness and emotional disconnect in his life. And perhaps we should, on our part, boost the spirits of young Antoines in our own families showing them that we care, be ready to listen to them, and help them do better in the battles they face instead of letting them feel that they have to do wrong to survive.

Rating: 4.5. Out of 5 for the interesting storyline, and the open-to-interpretation ending.

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