The material is well served by a more classical approach, wedged between less composed films in his career. Due to this I had a more immediate reaction than I often do Truffaut and then spent time playing catch up; it was clearly sad, uneasy without too much evident drama. 'Personal' makes sense tho it didn't occur to me watching. The sense of desire having unattainable ends almost overwhelming.
Wow, I wouldn't have imagined this rather slow-paced movie would have such an ending. One again, Truffaut didn't disappoint and delivered his idea brilliantly. For those who believe it's dull or lacks emotions : well, that was the point! He didn't want to romanticize the story, he just let the audience like or criticize on their own.
The central character has become wealthy and complacent . Four years after Barthes’ ‘Sur Racine’ his preoccupation with literary biography would identify him to a young audience as intellectually an establishment figure. He seeks the ‘Peau Douce’ his still passionate wife no longer provides. He finds it in a younger woman who is relatively indifferent to sexual contact but is impressed by his fame.
aka The Fire Without--at least with respect to the unambiguous closure it provides. Unlike Malle's masterpiece, however, Truffaut's pre-bang build-up lacks bite, specificity, and pathos. There's some very nifty, jumpy, up-to-that-minute shot-making on display here, and a lot of wonderfully droop-a-long face-pulling from Jean Desailly's hapless celebrity lit-critic. Damn shame, then, the shallows under the surface.
Truffaut's take on a more serious subject. It feels like kitchen sink drama made by Hitchcock. In general, it doesn't feel Truffaut-ian. Not a bad thing mind you, as a director should always stretch his/her wings. It shows how men and women live on opposite side of the worlds. Men expect others to know what they are trying to say, while women desire straight answers. Not spectacular, but still engaging. 7/10
The autobiographical subtext (Truffaut had recently left his wife for the film's star) gives a fascinating, self-lacerating vibe to this story of a bland, timid adulterer who wouldn't be appealing except for his fame. But subtext is just about all that's fascinating; it's 116 minutes, and most of it lacks the vitality, specificity, and humanity required to make truisms feel true or foolish decisions feel natural.