BED AND BOARD
The Adventures of Antoine Doinel Collection
Review by Ed Nguyen
Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Mademoiselle Hiroko
Director: François Truffaut
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1
Features: behind-the-scenes footage, TV excerpt, interview with Léaud, documentary excerpt, trailer
Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: April 29, 2003
don't like this business of writing about your childhood, dragging your parents
through the mud. I don't know much,
but one thing I do know - if you use art to settle accounts, it's no longer art."
Truffaut, with the success of 1968's Stolen
Kisses, entered one of the most memorable and exciting periods of his life.
Not only had the film been well received by audiences and critics alike,
but Truffaut's demonstrations to save the French Cinémathèque and his protests
over the Cannes Festival that same year had also greatly re-energized him.
No doubt, his high spirits were further boosted by the recent affections
of Claude Jade, his female lead for Stolen
Kisses. Feeling rejuvenated and
revitalized, Truffaut embarked upon a new and highly productive phase in his
career. Over the next two-year
span, he would make four movies in rapid succession, one of which would be Bed
and Board (1970), the next chapter in the adventures of Antoine Doinel.
premise for the film can be partially attributed to Henri Langlois, director of
the Cinémathèque. He had remarked
to Truffaut, after having previewed Stolen
Kisses, that he was very interested in seeing the first few months of
married life for Antoine. Since Stolen
Kisses had concluded with Antoine's engagement to his longtime sweetheart,
Christine, Bed and Board would pick up
the story shortly after their marriage.
the start of Bed and Board, Antoine
and Christine now share an apartment in a quaint courtyard community.
The surrounding homes are inhabited by the typically quirky eccentrics
who frequently pop up in comedies. There
is Ginette, a feisty waitress fixated upon Antoine.
In contrast, there is an old cop who scoops around and has an eye on
Christine ("I'd lay her badly, but I'd lay her gladly.").
There is Desbois, the elderly recluse who will not come out of his
apartment until the French Marshall Pétain is given a proper burial at Verdun.
There are the feisty Italian neighbors, a punctual husband who paces the
lobby halls in ceaseless exasperation at his habitually tardy wife.
There is the mysterious, Fonzie-looking character that everyone mistrusts
and nicknames "The Strangler." All
in all, the setting has the earmarks of a nice TV sitcom.
for our young couple, Antoine and Christine may struggle a bit to make ends
meet, but they are obviously very happy together. Christine now provides private violin lessons in between her
own concert performances while Antoine runs a funny little flower shop below
their apartment. He dyes the
flowers to make them more appealing and dreams of a get-rich-quick scheme by one
day achieving an Absolute Red flower.
It is a rather bourgeois existence for the former troublesome child of The
latest aspiration is to become an author, perhaps a reflection of his earlier
joy of reading. He is currently
working on a novel that will draw from his own life experiences, particularly
his uneasy childhood and turbulent relationship with his parents.
It's a case of art imitating life (in this case, Truffaut's).
In comparison, Bed and Board
has a minor character, a struggling writer, who re-appears several times. He consistently asks Antoine for money each time they meet on
the streets. Though the scenes are
played for comic effect, this loner could just as easily be Antoine in a few
years, a social outcast who eventually alienates even his friends.
Truffaut is offering a self-deprecating comment, for just as the
semi-autobiographical The 400 Blows resulted in a severe deterioration in Truffaut's
relationship with his own parents, so Antoine too has many unresolved feelings
about his own parents and troubled childhood.
Creating a novel out of those experiences, Truffaut implies, may cause
more harm than good. It is a
piercingly personal observation and one which will not be resolved until Love
on the Run, the last of the Antoine Doinel films.
in these early scenes, Antoine and Christine are comfortable together and do the
typical cute-couple things. They
chase each other around their apartment. They
dine on baby food when they run out of normal food.
Christine cheerfully corrects everyone who addresses her as mademoiselle,
"not mademoiselle, madame." In a reiteration of a scene from Stolen
Kisses (in which Antoine tried to kiss a reluctant Christine in her parents'
wine cellar), Christine lures Antoine into the wine cellar and this time
initiates the kiss herself.
on, there is also an intimate but funny moment in which Christine laments the
size of her breasts and how she will ever breast-feed a baby.
Antoine tells her not to worry, takes a peek, and nicknames them Laurel
and Hardy. While he obviously has
one thought on his mind, she has another on hers.
Christine coyly alludes again to her secret when she has Antoine escort
her to the gynecologist office one day. As
he leaves, he is a little slow to catch on, thinking that Christine is visiting
a dressmaker, but after he passes a poster of a baby on the metro, you can
practically see the light bulb flashing in his mind.
life initially seems to agree with Antoine.
But, although he is older now, he is still at heart an adolescent and
prone to lapses of judgment. When
his floral job eventually flops (he kills his flowers in a dyeing accident),
Antoine gets a new job...playing with remote-control boats in a pond!
Furthermore, with the eventual birth of his son, Antoine stubbornly goes
against Christine's wishes, registering his son's name as Alphonse while
Christine remains in the hospital recuperating.
It is an inconsiderate gesture on his part and an inkling of trouble on
real trouble arrives in the form of Kyoko, a pretty Japanese lady.
Dressed in a traditional kimono gown, she catches Antoine's eye one day
at work. And faster than you can
say moshi moshi, she ensnares him.
Kyoko's exoticism clearly fascinates Antoine.
When Christine inevitably discovers Antoine's infidelity, he gives her a
ridiculously flimsy excuse - "If she were just another woman, I'd
understand you being jealous. But
Kyoko's another culture. You
understand? She's another
rationalization does not work. For
the remainder of the film, his marriage is in hot water. To Antoine, life is almost like a farce with little
ramifications. He approaches his
marriage and his career not as an adult but as a child playing a game.
Christine, though she is young and innocent, deals with the issues of
married life honestly and maturely. She
reflects carefully on her actions and is not afraid to admit her own weaknesses:
"I'm not proud and never have been, so I can tell you -
I still love you. But I'd
rather not see you anymore." It is Christine, not Antoine, who provides the
emotional backbone for their marriage.
proves incapable of earnest deliberation and often makes the errors typical of
an adolescent mindset. The birth of
Antoine's son, signifying his progress into parenthood, scares him, and he
responds with an ill-timed, ill-advised affair. After his break-up with Christine, Antoine goes out to seek a
prostitute. Early in the film, when
a senator friend of Christine's father goes through a great deal of trouble to
help Antoine and Christine, Antoine writes an ungracious letter of thanks simply
because he disagrees with the senator's politics.
Even Antoine's choices of employment throughout his films bear the stamp
of a child looking for fun rather than an adult seeking to support his family.
effect, any act or event which requires a mature response from Antoine achieves
the opposite. Antoine's
misadventures may often be amusing and entertaining, but his troubles are
progressively of his own doing. Where
once, the misfortunes of his childhood were more the results of poor luck and
misunderstandings than of his own making, now, as a young adult, Antoine is
perfectly capable of generally all his problems himself without outside
intervention. The lessons of past
errors have not changed Antoine for the better.
the end, Antoine's marriage will somehow be saved, of course.
Christine still remains the pure-hearted, faithful girl from Stolen
Kisses and she still loves Antoine, for all his faults.
Despite the dramatic and often affecting scenes in the latter half of the
film, Bed and Board is ultimately a
comedy. It will eventually conclude
on a pleasant note, with a reconciliation between Antoine and Christine.
Together again, their behavior even begins to resemble that of their
Italian neighbors, to which the Italian wife remarks to her husband, "See,
darling? Now they're really in
in the aftermath of his first marital crisis, Antoine may at last understand his
responsibilities and begin the transformation to mature adulthood.
Only time will tell if the lessons learned this time around will come to
fruition in the final film of the Antoine Doinel series - Love
on the Run.
video image for Bed and Board is
uneven, having been transferred from rather grainy masters.
On the good side, it's the most colorful of the Antoine Doinel films.
The transfer is also mostly devoid of debris or scratches, and the images
have good clarity and texture. On
the bad side, the picture has a noisy quality with a small degree of pixelation;
this is most noticeable against white backgrounds, such as walls or skies.
Some viewers may find this distracting.
audio is Dolby monophonic 1.0. Since
it is entirely dialogue-driven, its limited dynamic range will not affect the
viewing experience. Just don't
expect much excitement from the subwoofers or the rear speakers because the
sound is rather thin. Nonetheless,
Criterion has done a fine job of clearing the soundtrack of any hisses or pops.
I really wish I knew what some of characters were saying in Japanese.
No subtitles are provided for these scenes, so the audience can only
speculate. It would have been
particularly interesting to know what was really said in an argument between Kyoko and her female roommate,
just before the roommate leaves so Kyoko can be alone with Antoine.
features on this DVD are short and sparse.
First up is a featurette with some brief behind-the-scenes footage,
followed by a quick on-set interview with Truffaut. Claude Jade answers a few questions too, although nothing of
real significance is revealed here.
Cinéastes de notre temps features an interview with Truffaut and his
co-writer, Bernard Revon. They go
through Truffaut's notes and discuss various gags and funny sequences for the
film, including an extended telephone gag which doesn't really appear in the
final cut. Truffaut also states
that Bed and Board would be the last
film in the Antoine Doinel series, as the character, now married, has hopefully
now outgrown his adolescence and is beginning to accept adult responsibilities.
this feature is a rare TV interview with Jean-Pierre Léaud.
He discusses the role of Antoine Doinel and again confirms that Bed
and Board would be the final film in the series.
up is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it excerpt from the documentary Approches
du cinéma. Truffaut is
featured and discusses the character of Antoine Doinel once more.
there is a cute trailer for the film. It's
a little hard to follow but does tend to convey the film's light and somewhat