It is hard sometimes to divorce myself and my politics from the politics or the film I am watching. I try my hardest to not bring any preconceptions to a film and I want to like every film I watch, but sometimes it just isn’t possible. I have written before on Truffaut’s treatment of women in his films and I will not rehash what I have said here on this post, but I just want to say that I really wanted to like this film.
I think my main problem with the film is the man is so incredibly purvey and nonchalant about everything. The film is based around a man who loves women basically. He finds one feature on a woman in passing and can’t rest until he has her. For instance she sees a woman in a shop with beautiful legs. He writes down her license plate, but it turns out to be a rental car. He goes to the rental agency and a beautiful secretary sympathizes with his made up situation and gives him information that could get her fired. He then tracks this woman down to the country and finds her cousin instead. Apparently the cousin let her use her license to get a rental car for a few days until she returned to Montreal. Although disappointed he goes back to the rental agency and beds the secretary. Along the way every woman he encounters is incredibly indulgent to this sweet talking man and can’t wait to hop in bed with him. It baffles me how he can just stalk a woman to her apartment the whole time knowing she has at least a boyfriend if not a husband, proposition her for sex and not get a slap on the face. In fact in this instance it becomes one of the longish affairs he writes about in his book that results in her shooting her husband and her going to jail for a while. He has long monologues about the legs of women and flowy skirts. At one point in the film he contracts gonorrhea and the doctor warns him that he must tell every partner he has been with in the last couple of weeks. He writes this off as too much work and goes on with his philandreing ways.
Alright I think I am being too harsh. My last entry in the Truffaut filmography I reviewed a film that involved a woman who was essentially a stalker. But I guess my problem with this film is the same that I had with Stolen Kisses. He treats his male figures like they are reverential figures who need to be exhalted at every turn. Every woman wants to him. For instance towards the end of the film he finishes his novel and submits it to a publisher. Every person rejects it except for the only woman in the room. She finds it to be intriguing and she becomes the sole champion of this tell all memoir. But the whole time there is the hint that she only accepts his book as a way to sleep with him which spoiler she does. It is frustrating to have no consequences for this type of man. Maybe the untimely death seems like a punishment, but it is nothing compared to the torture one of his other protagonists goes through, Adele. She is banished to a life of pining for a man who will want her but he is mourned by legions of attractive women and he dies in a heroic fashion.
I don’t hate this character, although I didn’t particularly like him. The actor goes thorough most of his scenes with a sigh of indifference. He doesn’t seem to care if he shows any emotions even when he finds the one woman who “got away.” There is always one, isn’t there? I just really didn’t like this film. But I tried. I tried to set aside my bad experiences with watching charismatic men sleep with a bunch of different women only to have a soft side and been hurt himself (think Alfie, the remake… I didn’t see the original) but I just could not. This film feels like so many others. and that is not what I want to say when I am watching a film by this great of a director. Maybe next time..