LOVE ON THE RUN
The Adventures of Antoine Doinel Collection
Review by Ed Nguyen
Jean-Pierre Léaud, Marie-France Pisier, Dorothée, Claude Jade, Julien
Director: François Truffaut
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1
Features: interview excerpt, television program excerpt, trailer
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: April 29, 2003
did you never say anything before today?"
all my life I've hidden my feelings, never saying anything directly."
don't trust people."
I trust you, Sabine. Believe me."
had initially declared 1970's Bed and
Board to be the final film in the Antoine Doinel series.
However, in 1978, after the commercial failure of his last film, The
Green Room, Truffaut was depressed. In
an effort to liven his mood, he decided to return once more to his favorite
screen alter-ego, Antoine Doinel, for his next film.
This new film would be structured as an overview of the earlier films
featuring the character and would offer a sense of hope and new direction to
Antoine's life. In an early script
treatment, a divorced Antoine would have a chance encounter with his first love,
Colette. They would recount their
lives to each other and slowly fall in love.
This time, their relationship would have a happy outcome, and the Antoine
Doinel cycle would conclude on a romantic note that would fulfill the early
promise of young love from Antoine and
the final version of this film, Love on
the Run (1979), was a far cry from Truffaut's original vision.
The film was still a commercial success, but Truffaut extracted little
joy from his latest production and, for the first time in his life, felt tired
of making films. Given the nature
of Love on the Run, Truffaut
experimented extensively with
flashbacks in the film, incorporating much actual footage from the earlier
Antoine Doinel films through innovative editing. But while it have been innovative back then, today, it seems
ordinary and dates the film somewhat. Furthermore,
whereas the earlier films in this series somewhat paralleled Truffaut's own
experiences, by this time, the paths of Truffaut's and his alter-ego's lives had
flashbacks are even a little misleading. One,
involving Colette's cameo in Stolen Kisses
(a color film), is shown in black & white.
Others, such as scenes of Antoine running about, are shown out of context
to illustrate something other than their original intent.
The most telling sign of trouble, however, is when the flashbacks
ultimately become more interesting than Love
on the Run's framing storyline. Since
these flashbacks are so numerous and occasionally run for a great length of
time, the film begins to border on redundancy.
Truffaut edited the flashbacks creatively (as reminiscences, scenes from
Antoine's book, inner thoughts, etc.) but ultimately Love
on the Run still begs the question - if it exists only to offer so many
scenes lifted directly from the previous films, why not just watch the previous
last we saw Antoine Doinel (in Bed and
Board), he had recently married his sweetheart Christine and their marriage
had just survived Antoine's first infidelity with a Japanese woman.
Now, in Love on the Run, eight
years after their marriage, Antoine and Christine are separated once more.
The reason for this marital strife is Antoine's repeated infidelity,
although this is conveyed in the film as almost an afterthought.
The film does not pause to reflect upon the emotional impact of this new
marital crisis. Unlike Bed
and Board, which offered several bittersweet but touching scenes relating to
Antoine's infidelity, Love on the Run
just throws it in for comic effect and moves right on along.
In general, the entire film can be said to have been composed in a
the start of Love on the Run, Antoine
has a new girlfriend, Sabine. She
loves him but is uncomfortable with his reluctance to be honest with her and to
truly let her become a part of his life. Antoine's
life, however, is still unaccomplished. The
novel he was finishing in Bed and Board
had not been a great seller, and he now works as a proofreader in a printing
factory. His life and his ambitions
remain unfulfilled. One day, as
Antoine is seeing his young son off to summer camp at a train station, he spies
Colette, his first true love, on another train.
Antoine instinctively hops on her train as it leaves the station, feeling
that fate has somehow given him an opportunity to address an old, unresolved
relationship. Given Antoine's other
romantic problems at the moment, it is perhaps not his wisest decision.
Colette ultimately rejects him again, telling him, "You can't just
do anything at all and then say 'forgive me.'
You haven't changed at all."
Pisier reprises her role as Colette (from Antoine
and Colette). She actually
looks quite good, possibly more beautiful now than in her original appearance.
Unfortunately, Colette's back story is dull and uninvolving, despite
occupying an entire third of the film's running length, so we have no real
emotional stake in her character. Colette
is apparently no longer with her ex-husband Albert (for sad reasons which the
film will reveal later) and is currently running after a disagreeable book shop
owner who doesn't seem very interested in her.
Frankly, that should be a good thing because he is a boring
sourpuss, yet Colette is inexplicably drawn to him. It is a quaint reversal from Antoine
and Colette, for now Colette is the pursuer, and the object of her desire is
indifferent to her.
is also now a lawyer, and the big conflict for her currently is whether or not
to accept the defense of a man who killed the 3-year-old son he thought was not
his. She has strong personal
reasons (which I will not reveal), unrelated to Antoine, for not wanting to do
so, yet by the film's end, she decides to take the case after all.
Truffaut seems to be making a case that her decision is illustrative of
Antoine's own parallel forgiveness of his parents later in the film.
But from a logical standpoint, it doesn't make sense and I didn't buy it.
Furthermore, despite Colette's worthy occupation, she regularly earns
extra money by offering herself to paying customers on the nightly commuter
train. It is an implausible notion,
but one into which Antoine wanders as he is seeing off his son.
I didn't buy it, either. Suffice
it to say that several false notes drain the Colette story of its dramatic
impact by the film's end.
also does not come across as a very sympathetic character this go-around.
He is too hyperactive and his mannerisms seem contrived.
Antoine seems incapable of emoting without resorting to a lot of hand
gestures, vocal acrobatics, or bugged-out facial expressions.
When Sabine temporary break ups with him, he is unable to convincingly
convey his love for her. He
gesticulates and tosses out the words, but there is little sense of any real
conviction in his delivery. Antoine
is less like a real adult and more like a man who has yet to abandon his
adolescence. In the aftermath of
conflicts or personal losses, he falls back on his old habit - he searches out
women (in earlier films, this would have come in the form of a prostitute or an
affair, but for this film, it is Colette).
has not matured in his handling of difficult situations.
This creates a central character who, now in his early thirties, is
problematic. Truffaut himself
recognized the dilemma of the situation, and knew that if Antoine aged but
continuously remained an outsider to society, it would become increasingly
difficult to empathize with him. For this reason, Truffaut wanted to make Love on the Run the final chapter in the Antoine Doinel series and
to show a hopeful, redemptive change in the character and the way he addresses
the other women in Love on the Run,
Claude Jade, as Christine, is quite winsome, as always.
Christine is easily the most likable character in the film, but Truffaut
shuffles her into the background for much of the film.
Instead, Sabine occupies the role of Antoine's new love.
Played by Dorothée (real-life host of the children's TV show Récré A2), Sabine is reminiscent of the younger Christine and even
exudes some of her innocent charm and grace.
But she is not as vibrant a character, mainly because she is not
adequately developed as a character until the film's last scene.
By then, it's too late. In
addition, Truffaut also sabotages Sabine's introduction.
She is first seen rolling around on the floor with Antoine.
Opening credits obscure much of the dark scene, anyway, and there is a
bland pop-lite theme song, "L'amour en fuite," that plays with the
credits. Audiences will not know
whether to focus on the credits, the murky photography, or the song.
It's disorienting. Compare this scene to Christine's simple appearance in Stolen
Kisses, in which she appears like an angel out of the night, waving timidly
at Antoine and miming cute, little messages to him through a glass barrier.
Furthermore, the fact that Sabine is introduced before Christine even
appears in the film is also confusing for audiences, considering that Bed
and Board concluded with Antoine and Christine together again.
Audiences will eventually realize that the marriage has probably
collapsed again, but will wonder immediately, was Sabine the cause?
Since we are already familiar with Christine from the previous films, we
will instinctively sympathize for her, and since we know nothing of Sabine, we
will instinctively view her negatively. Again,
it's not flattering and it starts the film off on the wrong note.
on the Run does
its saving graces, however. While
the film starts poorly, its final sequence, a reconciliation between Antoine and
Sabine, is quite affecting and probably the best scene in the movie. Sabine has her best moment in the film as Antoine's latest
suffering girlfriend. She is honest
and opens her feelings to him: "I don't know much about life, but it seems
that two people who love each other should share everything....when I saw you
couldn't decide on life with me and life without me, I knew I'd better be
careful." Sabine speaks at
length; it is one of the rare times in the entire Antoine Doinel series that
someone truly leaves herself so emotionally vulnerable. Antoine, in response, finally shows signs of maturity.
He confesses his love for her, convincingly this time, and offers her the
honest truth with no excuses. It is
perhaps his first real act as an adult in the series.
importantly, Love on the Run offers a
final reconciliation between Antoine and his mother. She does not actually appear (except in flashback), but
Antoine encounters one of her former acquaintances.
They eat lunch together and walk together, and that gentleman, Monsieur
Lucien, tells Antoine that his mother, in her own strange way, truly loved him.
Together, they visit her grave in Montmatre cemetery.
It is Antoine's first visit to his mother's resting place.
Thus, the main theme of Love on the
Run is revealed. It is not
about love or new adventures. It is
about reconciliation, of finding peace for the unresolved experiences of
Antoine's past. The air between
Colette and Antoine is cleared in this film.
Though Antoine's marriage is over, he and Christine continue to remain
very good friends. The emotional
scars from Antoine's childhood, especially the seemingly indifferent love of his
mother, are beginning to heal. And
perhaps Antoine, in his reconciliation with Sabine, will finally begin to grow
up, abandon his adolescence, and accept a new role in society as an adult.
thus, on this optimistic note, did the adventures of Antoine Doinel come to
their final conclusion.
Truffaut have would eventually created a sixth installment to the series?
Sadly, we will never know. In
August, 1983, Truffaut began experiencing debilitating headaches.
Initially attributed to acute sinusitis, the cause of his headaches was
soon discovered to be something more ominous - a malignant glioma in his right
frontal cortex. Even in face of
such news, Truffaut retained a courageous outlook, joking of reviews for his
early film Shoot the Piano Player: "They declared the film couldn't
possibly have been made by someone whose brain was functioning normally."
career had seen the creation of an incredible legacy of films, many of which
surpass even the best works of today's directors. Love on the Run may
have been one of his minor films, but it still bore his touch for humanistic
filmmaking and reflected his great love for the cinema.
Truffaut's enormous influence on generations of young directors cannot be
final film was 1983's The Woman Next Door,
completed prior to his illness. The
following year, on October 21, 1984, in Neuilly, France, François Truffaut
passed away. He was 52 years old.
film is presented in a color, anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer made from a
35mm interpositive. It is a solid
job and shows no discernible compression defects.
The modern sequences look quite fine.
The flashbacks are naturally of variable quality, but this is indicative
of 1970's technology, not the transfer itself.
Also, as with the other films in the Antoine Doinel series, the image has
been cleaned up and looks quite good.
monophonic 1.0 audio was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic soundtrack.
It sounds decent and quite clean, although this DVD is probably not the
one to use if you want to impress friends with your audio system.
The sub-woofers stay quiet the entire film, and the dynamic range of the
audio is somewhat limited. But,
again, it's adequate for the purposes of this film.
are only three short extras on this DVD. But,
since it's part of a box set (The
Adventures of Antoine Doinel), that's fine. The best features are located on the set's supplemental disc.
first extra on this DVD is an excerpt from the TV programme Cinescope. Truffaut offers some insight on his film.
Most significantly, he hints at his own dissatisfaction with the film.
The excerpt does not mention it, but even though the film was a success,
Truffaut found the story implausible and the script "flimsy, and very hard
to improve upon." Love
on the Run would join his other films The
Bride Wore Black and Fahrenheit 451
as a film he did not enjoy re-watching.
is a rare interview with Truffaut and Pisier.
They both discuss the rationale behind the film's concept as a concluding
chapter to the Antoine Doinel series. Truffaut also states conclusively that this will be the final
film in the series.
there is a trailer, which promises to bring back most of the women of Antoine's
life for this film.