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  Stolen Kisses Private Investigations
Year: 1968
Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Claude Jade, Michael Lonsdale, Harry-Max, André Falcon, Daniel Ceccaldi, Claire Duhamel, Catherine Lutz, Martine Ferrière, Jacques Rispal, Martine Brochard
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) hasn't exactly thrived on army life, no, in fact he has spent most of his time in military prison for going A.W.O.L. so eventually he is allowed to leave - a dishonorable discharge, of course. The first thing he does when he is released, still wearing his army uniform as he has no other clothes, is visit a prostitute in a brothel, but when she refuses his kisses and tells him she won't be taking her clothes off, he leaves and finds another. After a brief stop at his apartment, he goes to visit the current love of his life, Christine (Claude Jade), but she's not in and he ends up eating cheese with her parents instead. It is here that her father asks Antoine if he's looking for a job, and suggests a post as a night watchman in a hotel...

Outside of the initial instalment, Les Quatre Cents Coups, Stolen Kisses (or Baisers Volés if you prefer the French title) is probably the most favourite of François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series. Written by Truffaut with Claude de Givray and Bernard Revon, it lacks the gritty tone of that first film, but lets the romantic aspect blossom as the now gauche and lovelorn Antoine stumbles his way through love, life and relationships. Those relationships make up a steady pattern: you may be in love with them, but they're not in love with you, and when they change their minds and are in love with you, you're not in love with them anymore because someone else is now centre of your affections.

Léaud has really grown into his role, grown up with it too. As Antoine he gets to play the romantic lead and indulge in comedy which includes a little slapstick, both of which he carries off with aplomb. After winning the post of nightwatchman, he is fooled by a private detective (Harry-Max) into letting him and an aggrieved husband burst in on the husband's wife while she's in bed with another man. All this and the police are called too, so naturally Antoine loses his job. However, the detective gives him an idea and his next job might suit him better: as, yes, a private detective.

Now Mike Hammer Antoine is not, and we see him being noticed by the people he is supposed to be following, but he likes the job and manages to stick with it. By this point, as he is getting nowhere with his beloved Christine, you may be wondering what has happened to the story, and if indeed there will be one at all. Then shoe shop owner Mr Tabard (Michael Lonsdale) shows up, asking for assistance in finding out why nobody, as he suspects, likes him at all, and Antoine is given an undercover position in the shop, working with the staff to gauge their opinions.

It is here that he meets Madame Tabard (Delphine Seyrig, elegant as ever) and he immediately falls for her which causes him great emotional consternation, and Christine, missing his attentions, now has deep feelings for our hero. Oh, the irony. There's a danger of Stolen Kisses growing too cutesy for its own good with its mixture of sad-eyed romance and light-hearted humour, but Truffaut's confidence with his material is never in doubt; he even drops in a magic act to keep things interesting. Antoine's love life does eventually sort itself out, but not before it seems that the older Madame Tabard has taken an interest in his endearingly tactless charms. The last scene will have you pondering though. There were two more Doinel films after this one, but they didn't quite match it. Music by Antoine Duhamel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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