The Soft Skin

Film
3 out of 5 stars
softskinREV

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

From the beginning, Franois Truffaut was appreciated---rightly so---as a filmmaker sensitive to the difficulties of young people. Returning to his mediocre 1964 marital-infidelity drama only emphasizes this; you can't help but feel the disappointment that greeted the movie during its first go-round, in the wake such stunners as Jules and Jim and The Four Hundred Blows. Truffaut just feels like the wrong guy for this kind of middle-age syrup: tortured pillow talk, tragic Delerue strings and sneaking around hotel lobbies. Snappy Hitchcockian editing doesn't help here---his innate playfulness is thwarted by the material.

Redemptively, the cast goes a long way: Jean Desailly is perfect as a jowly literary celeb deep in midlife crisis, while the aloof Franoise Dorlac is magnetic as his airline stewardess and all-too-scrutable love object (Truffaut directed her toward petulance; he had to find his child somewhere). There's a comic sequence involving an escape from a lecture, and the movie tilts into melodrama with a vengeful bang of an ending. On the sidelines, Truffaut himself was nearing his own divorce. You have to salute his attempt to expand his range, but there was already depth to his usual subject matter. He was better off leaving the contempt to Godard.

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