The Soft Skin

Truffaut can't help himself, can he? Love triangles and then a murder. This strips back the pyrotechnics of Jules and Jim and is more sedate, almost stately, in its pacing. We spend a lot of time on the minutiae of this adulterous affair – which reveal Pierre to be gentle but muddled. The film includes several instances of the female characters getting harrassed on the street to demonstrate that our protagonist isn't a rapacious monster. And yet desire, stress and shame twist him this way and that, and in the throes of indecisiveness Truffaut consciously has him make the worst decisions possible. His young mistress is wiser than he is, and sees that the relationship has no future, not because he's married, but because the little irritations that have dogged their affair will build up and overwhelm the initial erotic thrill that kicked it off.

Truffaut is well aware of the sacrifices and compromises that strengthen a marriage. Pierre is spun about by a beautiful woman, but he still loves his wife and child. Truffaut uses his own appartment to shoot scenes of domestic bliss, affection and contentment, before moving on to show how a successful life partnership can be slowly broken apart by Pierre's impulsiveness and cowardice. Pierre's jilted wife Franca is certainly no coward – she instigates the separation and when she finds out about the other woman starts loading shells into a shotgun. The finale of the film is sub-Hitchcockian, but our time spent with the characters makes Franca's mania more explicable than Catherine's madness in Jules and Jim. It's a more conventional film, with a very conventional story, but in playing by the rules it becomes more dramatically successful than its predecessors.

No comments:

Post a Comment