Caught between the human glow of Renoir and a bizarre compulsion to emulate the frosty mechanics of his hero Hitchcock, unabashed cinephile and rebel romantic François Truffaut regularly swabs less acclaim than his fellow New Wavers for following his heart, rather than the giddy reinvention of cinema. Hardly fair, that. Because far more than JLG, Rohmer and Rivette, Truffaut’s movies remain the most purely enjoyable. Shot from the hip on the streets of Paris, his autobiog debut The 400 Blows still aches with raw truth and desperate feeling as 13-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud’s drift through kidulthood beaches on an immortal freeze-frame. Great disc, too, including Truffaut’s first short film Les Mistons and an affectionate chat-track from Truffaut’s lifelong friend Robert Lachenay.
Two kicky ‘60s classics follow in zig-zag gangster pastiche Shoot The Pianist! and boys-meet-girl masterpiece Jules Et Jim, both spinners packing a scene-by-scene discussion with Truffaut and commentaries. The latter’s sparkling, doomy romance between two young boho poets and the extraordinary Jeanne Moreau sets up the tantalising, oft-forgotten Anne And Muriel. Truffaut’s most sublime ode to the elusiveness of happiness sees French writer Léaud pinballing between two enigmatic sisters living on the Welsh coast: years pass, ephemeral passions flicker and epic emotion implodes inside discreet drama. Supps-wise, just a commentary – but a sharp one – by screenwriter Jean Gruault.
Truffaut’s career sign-offs The Woman Next Door (Gérard Depardieu’s obsessional, tragic thriller) and Finally, Sunday (affectionate, elegant Hitch-homaging mystery) also feature with their own actors’ audio tracks.