Grade: C+Love on the Run (1979)

Director: François Truffaut

Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Sabine Barnerias, Marie-France Pisier

Release Company: The Criterion Collection

MPAA Rating: PG

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Truffaut: Love on the Run


L'Amour en Fuite (Love on the Run) finishes off the Antoine Doniel series appropriately, as our Truffaut alter ego (Jean-Pierre Léaud) continues with his relationship difficulties. What else can we expect?

Actually, this 1979 film serves more as a summation of Doniel's life, as nearly half of the film consists of flashbacks to the previous four films -- The 400 Blows, Antoine and Colette, Stolen Kisses, and Bed and Board. The film only works because of the previous material, so don't try this one before seeing the first four chapters.

Our romantic Parisian begins the film with a new girlfriend Dorothée (Sabine Barnerias) on the morning of his divorce with Christine (Claude Jade). Antoine is now past thirty, but over and over we see that he is no wiser with relationships and is doomed to repeat the old patterns. More than once, his first love interest Colette (Marie-France Pisier) remarks "same old Doniel." Indeed, the romantic in Doniel compels him to act irrationally, searching Paris for the woman behind a picture or hopping on a train without a ticket to meet an old flame.

Truffaut does attempt some psychological explanations for Antoine, as the women in his life all think that he will continue his relationship problems due to his unresolved problems with his parents. That's the only hope offered here. We find that both of Antoine's parents have died, his mother's old flame taking Antoine to her gravesite at Montmarte. Also, Antoine has written his novel, based almost word for word on his actual life. Thus, the potential for Antoine to forgive his parents and establish a solid relationship is present.

If this were a Hollywood film, that would happen. With François Truffaut's more spontaneous cinema verite-like improvisations this is not so certain. The deaths of his parents and the autobiographical novel are used more as plot devices to bring past clips into the film. Don't expect an epiphany here for our hero, as the final image of young Antoine on the revolving carnival ride indicates.

Still it's a treat to see the mature Colette once again after a 17-year hiatus, and there's the irrepressible Léaud, who continues to act naturally from the heart -- an extension of Truffaut's soul. As expected, we get more Truffaut tracking shots through the Parisian streets and intimate private scenes between Antoine and his friends. Most memorable though are the numerous film clips that bring back a lot of memories of our film friend.

Thus, Love on the Run is strictly for Truffaut fans, who have grown up with Antoine Doniel improvising his way through the Bohemian sections of Paris. Should an innocent viewer pick up this film first, the flashbacks to black and white film and differing quality film stocks would be unevenly jarring and nonsensical. For those of us who have grown with Doniel, Truffaut provides a suitable send off for the series--a sweet concluding coda.

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