A Realistic Childhood in “The 400 Blows”

The 400 Blows, François Truffaut‘s first feature film, does a wonderful job at capturing adolescence — and every minute of it will ring true for people who weren’t always on their best behaviour when they were kids. It’s one of Roger Ebert’s Great Movie picks: “The 400 Blows (1959) is one of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent. Inspired by Truffaut’s own early life, it shows a resourceful boy growing up in Paris and apparently dashing headlong into a life of crime.” (Don’t read the whole review unless you’ve already seen the film.) Whether or not you relate to the main character, it’s difficult not to feel sympathy for him because although he gets into trouble, he’s not a bad kid; he’s just surrounded by stupid adults, at home, at school, everywhere. There isn’t much story to The 400 Blows, but it’s so well directed and acted and it all feels so genuine, it’s perfectly enjoyable just the way it is.