Truffaut’s second-to-last Antoine Doinel film is another masterpiece. It’s charming and cute, and, like many of his others, atypically structured. There are asides and side characters, though there is certainly an overarching narrative.
The film pays homage to Jacques Tati, not just in the courtyard, which is very reminiscent of that in Mon Oncle–
-but also with a Monsieur Hulot appearance!
Anyone know who plays Hulot here? Tati isn’t credited. There’s also a hilarious Last Year at Marienbad parody earlier in the film.
Bed & Board is funny. Many of the asides – like Christine’s (Claude Jade) monologue to their son about the various things Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud) will bring with him to the bathroom – are hilarious, but they also feel well-worn and real. Christine and Antoine’s marriage is cute, but it’s also earnest.
Again, Truffaut’s blocking is brilliant. Here, Antoine works on yet another scheme – this time dying flowers:
Truffaut starts in a WS, pans and zooms in for a conversation, and then pans back to the flowers. Antoine puts a concoction on them that starts to smoke, which Truffaut uses as motivation to tilt up (image #3). His neighbor then tosses a newspaper down, motivating the tilt back down. The sequence shot ends in a CU on the wilted, destroyed flowers. It’s smooth, playful, and encompasses a lot of energy into one shot.
I think that’s a real strength of Truffaut’s – his blocking is energetic, but never feels overplayed. Characters and objects just move so naturally to and from camera.
This series of films feels like a really obvious precursor to Linklater’s Before Sunset, etc series. We stay with the leads as they grow, we watch the birth of children and marriage pains. Obviously Linklater puts his own (largely verbal and walking long take, I’d say) stamp on it, but the concept and no-frills approach feels very Truffaut.