The Antoine Doinel films are one of the most critical acclaimed series in movie history. They documented the life of the director’s alter ego for over twenty years. Each film showed the boy at different ages in his life and showed his evolving view on the world. Francois Truffaut captured each stage with a humorous and insightful view of the France he knows.
“Bed and Board” is the fourth installment where at this point Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is married to Christine (Claude Jade). He works as a flower dyer, using various liquids and sprays to make them brighter colors. Both of them seem happy as they remain giddy and flirty with each other. Trouble is formed when Antoine becomes a fascinated by the exotic Kyoko, a Japanese native.
Léaud has played this role since he was a child, in the masterful “The 400 Blows.” The performance has never felt stale because he always evolved this performance with his age. He moves with a conservative romanticism as he is always dreaming of bigger, while dressing just perfectly to fit the style. His mindset adjusts by being rationally imagining which is difficult for the other characters.
The French New Wave films have a visual look that always feels warm. Especially Truffaut’s movies, they are so playful. It’s the way the camera focuses on organic and interesting points that can liven up any scene. To introduce Christine, Truffaut keeps the camera on her legs. It’s how Antoine sees her: exciting and sexy.
As a comparison to the rest of the series, “Bed and Board” ranks as the weakest of the four so far, but still a worthy addition. It’s a comfortable entry that plays upon what has happened in the past. It isn’t showing a new side of London like “The 400 Blows” or seeing Antoine try to discover his identity like “Antoine & Collette” or “Stolen Kisses.” This is about Antoine growing up and making the latest good and bad decisions in his life. His strengths and flaws make him a consistently curious character.
He is revisited in the 1979 film, “Love on the Run” the final film in the series. All are available on DVD by The Criterion Collection. They made very nice transfers of the film, while maintaining the crispy look of shooting on film. All are recommended.