Two in the Wave (FRANCE)
Godard and Truffaut – are there any other names in movies that inspire such reverence and passion? As the defining members of La Nouvelle Vague – the surge of form-changing films that emerged from France in early 1960s – their assuredness and inventiveness changed cinema and created a generation of cinephiles. For those devotees of the Paris Cinematheque, and for an generation to follow, films were not just “art” but a way of life.
In Two in the Wave, Emmanuel Laurent superbly mashes archival footage, movie clips and newsreels (Bernard Herrmann’s jaunty newsreel music from Citizen Kane even appears) and crafts a portrait of Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Trauffaut’s friendship, creative and personal, through to its final dissolution shortly after the release of the latter’s Day for Night in 1973. At that time, Godard – the more political and iconoclastic of the two – wrote his contemporary a critical letter attacking his lack of political nuance. This prompted a twenty page reply from the infuriated Truffaut. They would never meet again.
The film doesn’t delve into what happened next, the movement’s influence or Hollywood’s eventual film-brat response in the late sixties and early seventies, instead restraining itself to a study of the now mythical visionaries and their work, especially, the pivotal The 400 Blows and A bout de soufflé (Breathless).
One of the many ideological differences that would strain their relationship came from frequent collaborator, actor Jean-Pierre Léaud, who starred as Truffaut’s alter ego, Antoine Doinel, in Blows. With his significant influence, Laruent could have titled his film, “Three in the Wave,” to no lesser effect. [JB]