Les quatre cents coups (1959)
Francois Truffaut's unanimously hailed magnum opus is still graced with a fragile beauty, but after over 50 years as a cinema classic, it feels like exactly that; an old classic. Unlike A bout de souffle, Jean-Luc Godard's masterpiece from the same year (co-written by Truffaut, incidentally), Les quatre cents coups is no longer vibrant, radical or relevant. It's a classically told story about a mild juvenile deliquent, his struggling parents, and their lives in 1950s Paris. The film is stylistically and narratively run-of-the-mill, and the thematics, which may have been pertinent back in 1959, have been seriously dulled by the ravages of time. Today, the film feels academic and overly pragmatic; almost lifeless. Truffaut follows his alter-ego Antoine relentlessly, ostensibly trying to extract meaning from his every move, but he has little to communicate artistically. The kid's story is interesting enough, but Les quatre cents coups is not quite, unless you're a film history student.