Two In The Wave

Two In The Wave


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is a documentary about a friendship which helped define modern cinema. It follows Truffaut and Godard as they made the transition from daring critics to critical darlings, and then how their relationship developed as France itself changed. There's 1968 and all that, but also the changing face of French cinema, a change that they almost simultaneously delayed and brought about.

If you are a film fan then this is likely to be a treat, a fascinating biography of sorts - not just of the Nouvelle Vague, nor, indeed, of Truffaut and Godard's friendship, but also of the young man some referred to as their 'son', Jean-Pierre Léaud. Growing up in front of us, in films for both directors, his is in some ways also the story of the New Wave.

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The film itself is playful. Several scenes involve actress Isild Le Besco walking through locations important to the pair's careers, leafing through copies of film magazines, arts papers, at one point watching the script appearing on a Macbook screen. There's a wide variety of archive sources, perhaps the most amazing of those being Léaud's screen test for Les Quatre Cents Coups.

There are also interviews with people like Hitchcock and Lang. Indeed, the archive footage here contains a cavalcade of filmic notables - scenes of Cannes before it became quite the nightmarish scrum it is today, and of its disruption during the strikes of '68.

While Emmanuel Laurent's film has clearly drawn some lessons from the films whose directors it follows, it's aided by its subject - while fiction about film-makers often grates, it's a medium particularly suited to documentary. Consider the sheer number of Making Of... features on DVD releases, or their more ambitious counterparts in films like Hearts Of Darkness or Siberia. The very act of making films produces things for making films, but winnowing a tale from that quantity is no easy task - covering decades in such quality and with such affection is no easy task, but it's one that Laurent is clearly capable of.

Two In The Wave is informative without ever feeling didactic, entertaining in and of itself, and aided by a subject that's likely to be of interest to filmgoers anyway. Laurent and his team have made a film that's not only touching but an almost perfect introduction to the New Wave - its key personalities, its themes, even its techniques. It would be some surprise if it doesn't find itself on a variety of curricula, but at no point does it feel dry or academic. If you've an interest in film, or film-making, and as an Eye For Film reader both of these are likely, then this film is commended to you.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2010
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Account of the friendship between Truffaut and Godard.
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Chris **

Director: Emmanuel Laurent

Starring: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Isild Le Besco, François Truffaut

Year: 2009

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: France

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