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touching lightly

Stolen Kisses

Stolen Kisses (French: Baisers volés) is a 1968 French film directed by François Truffaut. It continues the story of the character Antoine Doinel, whom Truffaut had previously depicted in The 400 Blows and the short film Antoine and Colette. In this film, Antoine begins his relationship with Christine, which is depicted further in Bed & Board and Love on the Run.

The original French title of the film comes from a line in Charles Trenet's song "Que reste-t-il de nos amours?" which is also used as the film's signature tune.

Synopsis

Discharged from the army as unfit, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) seeks out his sweetheart, violinist Christine Darbon (Claude Jade). He has written to her voluminously (but, she says, not always nicely) while in the military. Their relationship is tentative and unresolved. Christine is away skiing with friends when Antoine arrives, and her parents must entertain him themselves, though glad to see him. After she learns that Antoine has returned from military service, Christine goes to greet him at his new job as a hotel night clerk. It is a promising sign that perhaps this time, the romance will turn out happily for Antoine. He is, however, quickly fired from the hotel job. Counting the army, Antoine loses three jobs in the film, and is clearly destined to lose a fourth, all symbolic of his general difficulty with finding his identity and "fitting in".

Later, Christine attempts to guess Antoine's latest job, amusingly tossing out guesses like cab driver or water taster. Finally, his job as a private detective is revealed. Throughout the film, Antoine works to maintain the job, working a case that requires him to pose as a shoe store stock boy. The job separates Antoine from his relationship with Christine. Soon, he falls for his employer's attractive (and older) wife, who willingly seduces him. He quarrels with Christine, saying he has never "admired" her. Fired from the detective agency, by the film's end, Antoine has become a TV repairman. He still avoids Christine, but she wins him back by deliberately disabling her TV, then calling his company for repairs while her parents are away. The company sends Antoine, who is then forced to stay for hours trying to fix an irreparable TV. Morning finds the two of them in bed together.

The film's final scene shows the newly engaged Antoine and Christine, strolling in the park. A strange man who has trailed Christine for days approaches the couple and declares his love for Christine. He describes his love as "definitive" and unlike the "temporary" love of "temporary people". When he walks away, Christine explains that the man must be mad. Antoine, recognising similarities in much of his own previous behaviour, admits, "He must be".

Cast

For the role of Christine Darbon, Truffaut cast a nineteen-year-old actress, Claude Jade, who had impressed him in the stage play Enrico IV. Truffaut had been "completely taken by her beauty, her manners, her kindness, and her joie de vivre.

Responses

Stolen Kisses was well-reviewed by critics all over the world. In an enthusiastic article from the New York Times (March 4, 1969) Vincent Canby comments:

With what can only be described as cinematic grace, Truffaut's point of view slips in and out of Antoine so that something that on the surface looks like a conventional movie eventually becomes as fully and carefully populated as a Balzac novel. There is not a silly or superfluous incident, character, or camera angle in the movie. Truffaut is the star of the film, always in control, whether the movie is ranging into the area of slapstick, lyrical romance or touching lightly on DeGaulle's France (a student demonstration on the TV screen). His love of old movies is reflected in plot devices (overheard conversations), incidental action (two children walking out of a drug store wearing Laurel and Hardy masks), and in the score, which takes Charles Trenet's 1943 song, known here as "I Wish You Love," and turns it into a joyous motif.

References

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