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1,936 Ratings

The Soft Skin

La Peau Douce

Directed by François Truffaut
France, Portugal, 1964
Drama, Romance


Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married to Franca and father of Sabine. When he meets air hostess Nicole, the two start a love affair. As much as he tries to hide the affair to his wife, Pierre cannot stand staying away from Nicole.

Our take

Before starting one of his most personal works, Truffaut wrote to his close friend Helen Scott, “The film will be indecent, completely shameless, quite sad; but very simple.” Shot very quickly in Truffaut’s own apartment in melancholic B&W, La Peau Douce deals with the throes of passionate love.

The Soft Skin Directed by François Truffaut
The camera unfurls this narrative much more than any dialogue could begin to register. When Pierre writes a declaration of love to Nicole and then spots her, Truffaut cuts from her face to an insert of the note, then out to Paul’s face, all before panning down to him crumpling up the note. With words, it would take minutes to describe what is registered by the camera in a matter of seconds.
March 17, 2015
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I know of nothing quite like The Soft Skin, in its tonal unpredictability. Characteristic is the illicit couple’s nightmarish sojourn in Reims, which ranges from the darkly comic to the devastating, often within the same frame. Along with Coutard’s expressive cinematography, Georges Delerue’s lovely, nimble score serves to keep us from being able to settle into a single mood or emotion… For my money, it’s one of the director’s finest films, subtle, powerfully adult, and profoundly personal.
March 09, 2015
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An “antipoetic” (per Truffaut) response to the director’s Jules and Jim, this extramarital tragedy in the key of thriller is no less stylish. Raoul Coutard’s camera is still agile—panning, tracking, always on the move—but now it’s neurotic, and Claudine Bouché and Truffaut’s fast-cut editing expressly avoids lyricism.
March 09, 2011
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