Those whose knowledge of French nouvelle vague linchpin François Truffaut begins with ‘The 400 Blows’ and ends with ‘Jules and Jim’ should seek out this steely 1964 study in the cruel mechanics of illicit love. Like one of Eric Rohmer’s ‘Moral Tales’ recast as a smouldering thriller, the film is marked by an intense, unromantic rigour absent in the director’s early work. It traces paunchy, middle-aged publisher and lecturer Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly) as he heedlessly ditches his loving wife and child so he can romp around the countryside with a coquettish air hostess (Françoise Dorléac). It’s conservative, as Truffaut views Pierre’s actions as immoral. But it’s more concerned with the logistics of love, asking whether the time and energy one must exhaust for a little something on the side is worth it.
Cast and crew
François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard