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aka - Peau Douce, La
France 1964
Directed by
Francois Truffaut
113 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Soft Skin

Truffaut's follow-up to his now iconic Jules Et Jim (1961) is thematically-related, being about a university lecturer (Jean Desailly) caught between the charms of a young air-hostess (Françoise Dorléac) and the domestic stability provided his wife (Nelly Benedetti), although stylistically it is quite different. The setting is now contemporary Paris, which Truffaut uses in a more Godardian or perhaps Hitchcockian fashion to frame the narrative whilst also adopting a much more detached, clinical approach to telling the story, nicely abetted by Raoul Coutard’s black and white photography.

The film, scripted by Truffaut with Jean-Louis Richard, was not received well critically in its day, probably partly because it is so different from the more vivacious style of Truffaut’s work to date but also, I suspect, because it is a dramatically flat effort despite its (seemingly-tacked on) melodramatic ending. Truffaut does not make the relationship between the bland and plain bourgeois professeur and the young dolly-bird air hostess seem plausible and the wife’s character gets very little attention, once again her level of emotional commitment to her husband having very little motivation. Perhaps Truffaut, who would leave his own wife for Fanny Ardant some time later, saw more in the film, which like Farenheit 451 (1966), remains somewhat of a curiosity in his career.

FYI: Françoise Dorléac was killed in a road accident shortly after the film’s release.




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