Love on the Run is the last installment of the Antoine Doinel saga. We have seen Antoine as a young rebellious youth, an awkward teen on his own and a husband and lover always dissatisfied with what he has. At the end of Bed and Board, Antoine and his wife are on good terms and they seem to love each other more now than they did before. However at the start of Love on the Run, we see Antoine in the bed of a very different girl. He acts differently around this woman than he seemed to around the two other women we have seen him with in previous films. He seems to really like her, but also seems to be insecure about it. This is out of the ordinary for Antoine. He always seems to be aware of the people he loves and pursues them with a need that is vital to his life. This out of the ordinary scene starts a film that is odd in comparison to the other Doinel features. Not in a good way.
Known as the lesser of all the films in this trilogy, Love on the Run leans on recycled material from past films in Truffaut’s filmography. Flashbacks litter the film to an annoying degree. If we are watching this film, then we know where Antoine comes from, what mistakes he has made in the past and how he met his previous lovers. We don’t necessarily need reminding of it. The worst flashback is the scene in Day for Night where Leaud’s character is arguing with his girlfriend but is not Antoine. This girlfriend comes back in this film and becomes the lover that pulls apart his marriage for the last time which is the reason for the scene to be put in the film, but it doesn’t make for a good reason. In fact at one point of the film, Leaud responds to a question proposed by a person who is off camera. It is something about coming back to the set, but in this film he is not an actor, he is a real person that is in a vacation home with his wife and this girl. So Truffaut has the wife call out to him, but his answer makes no sense and breaks up the discourse in a way that is jarring. For some reason, Truffaut goes back to the well of cutting his previous films into this one each time resulting in worse and worse continuity problems. It gets to a point that I imagine Truffaut is shouting to the viewer “hey hey you do you remember I made this film? and this film? and this one? Weren’t they better than this piece of shit I am forcing you to watch now?”
My other major problem with the film is the theme of Antoine actually falling in love with the woman at the beginning. We have seen him again and again fall in love with women only to fall right back out of love with them. What makes this woman different? Why are we supposed to believe that this one is going to stick? The film seems to answer these questions by saying it is because he found a ripped up picture of her on the floor of a phone booth and then stalked her! I think Truffaut has a fascination with stalking. For the last three films in a row that I have watched of his, he has featured stalking very prominently. I would not be surprised to learn that Truffaut himself was a stalker. Truffaut romanticized stalking and makes it a thing a “normal” person would do. Because Antoine did not stalk his other girlfriends so obviously then he was not that in love with them.
Antoine Doinel is an interesting character that had a lot of potential to grow as a human and experience things that everyone has to deal with. I feel like in this film his potential was wasted. It seemed the real meat of the film was told in glimpses and boring remembrances. I would have liked to see the eventual break in his relationship with his wife instead of just watching it in snippets. I would have liked for not every major character to come back and for him to not visit his mother’s grave. It was unneeded sappyness. We all know that he was damaged by his youth and his neglectful mother, we don’t need it spelled out for us in the form of his mother’s boyfriend coming into his life and showing him her gravestone. I think Antoine Doinel needed a better send off. That is all.