TWO IN THE WAVE (Emmanuel Laurent, 2010)

Its journalistic approach helps make Emmanuel Laurent’s documentary about the rise and demise of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard’s friendship, Deux de la Vague, dry as dust; nor is it helped by frequent inserts of young French actress Isild Le Besco reading clippings and such to underscore the momentous, somewhat academic history that the bleeding fate of this friendship has become. Heartlessly, Laurent juxtaposes 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud, at the time that Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959) made him a star, declaring with what joy he experiences life and the suggestion that turmoil generated by the Godard-Truffaut conflict eventually tore Léaud apart. You may recall Léaud’s eventual mental problems.
     Its title referring to the nouvelle vague, the radical, freedom-loving movement in French filmmaking beginning in the 1950s, the film is exasperatingly mute on details of either the Godard-Truffaut friendship or its demise—although, according to the film, the latter shattered the movement. (Actually, the course of French political history had more to do with the movement’s undoing.) One of the sad aspects of Truffaut’s death in 1984, at 52, was the cancellation of all hope of reconciliation between the two filmmaking titans. However, Truffaut was recalcitrant, having rebuffed Godard’s efforts at a reconciliation. On the other hand, Godard seemed implacably cruel when he announced that Truffaut’s death didn’t bother him at all. He may have been lying, though; his swipe at Steven Spielberg in his greatest masterpiece, In Praise of Love (2001), perhaps suggests that Truffaut’s death clung to him, if only a bit. You may recall that Godard took offense at Truffaut’s increasing bourgeoism, a milestone of which was his participation in a Spielberg picture, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).
     In any case, I do not care for Laurent’s piddling documentary.

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