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Sunday, March 22, 2015

La Peau Douce (aka The Soft Skin) (1964)

A middle aged unprepossessing married businessman (Jean Desailly) becomes obsessed with a flight attendant (Francoise Dorleac, who could blame him?) on a business trip to Lisbon. They embark on an affair that seems to go wrong from the very start and no good will come of it. Francois Truffaut's follow up to his extremely successful JULES AND JIM was not well received critically or at the box office when first released, at least in the U.S. Posterity has shown however that it is one of Truffaut's strongest films. Its portrayal of the complexities of adultery is given a depth of intricacy one doesn't usually find in the often cliched triangles of Hollywood films. Truffaut is not judgmental and points no fingers at anyone and in spite of their flaws, the three protagonists prove to be sympathetic figures ..... eventually. The wife (superbly played by Nelly Benedetti) appears at first to be a cipher, the negligible "wife" but in the second half of the film, she comes into her own. This is perhaps the first film where the Hitchcock (Truffaut's idol) influence shows its impact. Haunting, disturbing and yet quite beautiful. The effective underscore is by Georges Delerue.   

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