Les amants

Watching Francois Truffaut’s The Soft Skin (1964) I was never completely convinced that Nicole, the tres chic flight attendant played by Francoise Dorleac (sister of Catherine Deneuve), would go for Jean Desailly’s married man—he’s a bourgeois public-intellectual type who looks like a French-New-Wave version of John Hodgman.  But that didn’t much get in my way of enjoying the film, an almost shockingly straight-faced drama in which nearly all of the stylistic flourishes that decorate Truffaut’s three previous features have been stripped away.  For the first three-quarters of the film, the plot feels almost procedural; then, at the last minute, it steers into thriller territory, much as Truffaut’s The Woman Next Door (1981) would do nearly two decades later.  The note on which it finally lands is almost Bressonian in its elegance and brutality.  The lovely score by Georges Delerue doesn’t hurt, either.  Nor does cinematography by Raoul Coutard.  (Just check out how stacked that credits list is!)          

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