Watching Jean-Pierre Leaud as a young boy trapped between his defining moments with a friend and his duty as a son to detached and bleary parents is a journey. The film, The 400 Blows, is about identity as much as it is about the extraction of one’s self from conditioned consciousness. The agony of growing up is painful but surviving it is even more harrowing.
The boy, Antoine Dionel, seeks a relationship which is fundamental for all those who appear to be. But who are these people? And do they or can they love and appreciate us in the way we’d want them to? Do we truly know how we want to be loved? Such questions often rise to the surface of the film and they sink back in again just when you think you know the answers.
To evolve - for instance - in ways as if one rebels and seeks strange yet stimulating experiences is feeling free, even for a day. But then you’re back to playing a role; into setting a table in which you’re nothing but the spitting image of the chair next to you. Is that the good life?
The film is told in detailed melancholy. It’s expressive, intelligent, and amusing. It’s at a crossroads between being a sad and poetically modern film. The kind that redeems itself with every scene, that is, if you’re willing to open yourself up to exploring new dimensions in a black and white film. Because it arrives with a strange longing to be seen and understood. And departs as being one of the greatest and purest films about searching for one’s true identity.