STOLEN KISSES (François Truffaut, 1968)

The third of the five films in François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel cycle, Baisers volés picks up on Antoine, now in his early twenties, as he is let out of the brig (for going AWOL repeatedly) and kicked out of the service. His first stop of freedom: a brothel—not just for the sex but also to confirm his tool hasn’t lost its touch.
     Antoine’s heart is fixed on Christine Darbon; can he move her heart towards him? In the meantime, in any case, Antoine needs to find himself so that there is a “him.” Night watchman, detective, shoe salesman (an undercover detective job—a job-within-a-job), TV repairman: Antoine doesn’t keep a job for long. As with the military, he keeps getting discharged.
     The shoestore boss’s wife (Delphine Seyrig, delicious) occasions a moment of extreme adolescent panic: he calls her “sir” and flees; but she tracks him down to his apartment, and they make love. Her husband had hired the detective agency for which Antoine works in order to get to the bottom of why no one likes him; but, really or unconsciously or both, Monsieur Tabard wonders about this where his wife is concerned.
     And now someone is shadowing Christine and Antoine because he wishes to declare his love for Christine.
     Everything that happens in this hilarious, warm film conspires in and contributes to getting Antoine and Christine together as a couple. The universe is on their side. “Their song,” that is to say, Truffaut’s song expressing his hope for them is what we know in English as Charles Trenet’s “I Wish You Love.”
     Truffaut has dedicated this film to Henri Langlois, that year the ousted and reinstated force behind the Cinémathèque, which he co-founded. More love.
     Jean-Pierre Léaud is again brilliant as Antoine Doinel.

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