After completing Shoot the Piano Player and the cinematic masterwork Jules et Jim, Truffaut returned his alter-ego to the screen in the movie Antoine and Colette. This short film was made for a international collection of shorts about first love–a perfect subject for Antoine Doinel’s return to cinema.
Because of its compressed time frame, Antoine and Colette may not be as accomplished cinematically as The 400 Blows, however it has its place as a truly great look at love at first sight.
We are reunited with Antoine at the age of 17, now living on his own and working at a record company. He spends his free time going to classical concerts, until his focus shifts to Colette, a young beautiful girl he meets at the concerts.
His love for her is superficial love at first sight, and in reality he is more infatuated with her parents than he is with her.
Although Antoine rejects the notion that she may not be interested in him romantically, even going so far as to move across the street from her, it is clear to the viewer that he is not after her but rather after her welcoming parents and the love and stability they present to him.
On the surface Doinel has an upbeat look on life, however, we see his darker side during the failed attempts to win Colette over. He has anger in him, and while it barely comes to the surface, you can see it in his eyes after he is rejected again and again.
The confusion and frustration that drove Doinel to act out in The 400 Blows is still present in his character, but instead of acting out, Doinel searches desperately for love. Unfortunately for Doinel, his search is in all the wrong places. Antoine may be living on his own, and depending only on himself, yet this does not equal maturity. He is still suffering from his parent’s lack of love and his being sent to the juvenile delinquency system. While this film is certainly played as a comedy, it is undeniably bittersweet. His love for Colette may not be real, but his need for love is, and unfortunately, Doinel must continue his search.
The film is not perfect, it feels like it could have been improved as a feature. Yet, even with it being a 30-minute film, it still has a great emotional weight. This is certainly something that is true all of the Doinel films, but this one especially–if one does not personally connect with the character, the film may not work.
This was the perfect spot in Doinel’s life for audiences to be reintroduced to the icon of the French New Wave. Truffaut’s Antoine and Colette may be his least seen film, but it is no less one of the best in the series. For any Truffaut or Antoine Doinel fan, this short is a must see.