In 1959, Francois Truffaut’s first film, “The 400 Blows,” wowed audiences and critics at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1960, Truffaut’s Cahiers du Cinema colleague Jean-Luc Godard released “Breathless,” and the two directors became synonymous with a new era in cinema dubbed the French New Wave. At first collaborative but later combative, both filmmakers loved working with New Wave poster child Jean-Pierre Leaud.
Using only archival footage and old interviews with the directors, Laurent delivers a fascinating analysis of a transformational moment in French cinema: the transition from a long-established, classic film style to a new, more authentic modernism. While evoking the period via its distinctive pop art and explosive politics, Laurent illustrates the astonishing careers of the two visionaries with clips from their work and an abundance of newsreel footage. As the relationship between the two directors sours, Leaud bounces between them like a confused kid caught up in his parents’ divorce. Fans of French cinema should definitely catch this “Wave.”