Two in the Wave

Movies
2 out of 5 stars
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Emmanuel Laurent’s documentary on the tumultuous friendship between critic-filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Franois Truffaut hardly rates as a DVD special feature. A dry collection of archival interviews and other materials traces these two leading lights of the French New Wave from their first meeting to their poisonous breakup-par-lettre. Laurent mimics some of the duo’s stylistic affects: An ongoing voice-over, spoken by film critic Antoine de Baecque, is very Godardian in its erudite discursiveness. And several modern-day scenes of actress Isild Le Besco—reading back issues of Cahiers du cinema and wandering wistfully past the Paris Cinmathque—are an embodiment of Truffaut’s principle that, to make a successful movie, one need only film the face of a pretty woman.

Not in this case, though. Laurent knows the facts of his subject, but he loses the emotional thread amid all the flimsy homage. Only a quick-cut montage of the directors’ frequently shared performer Jean-Pierre Laud (best known as Truffaut’s onscreen alter ego Antoine Doinel) truly resonates, as a collection of film clips show him aging from a scrappy teenage boy to a haunted older man and back again. Otherwise the film blows up a minor aspect of the New Wave to foolishly apocalyptic proportions, substituting gossip for gospel.—Keith Uhlich

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