Emmauel Laurent's insightful
documentary charts the rise of French cinema's two brightest stars
Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard as they gave fresh impetus to
their nation's cinema in the form of the Nouvelle Vague, or the New
Wave to give it it's English translation.
Starting in 1959 with the Cannes premiere of Les Quatre Cents Coups
(The 400 Blows), Truffaut's triumphant debut feature, the film shows
how Godard responded in kind with Breathless (1960); how the two men
were shaped by their cinema going youth, how their journalistic freedom
at Cahiers du Cinema in Paris helped define them as filmmakers and then
slowly how their friendship disintergrated without it being resolved
before Truffaut's premature death in 1984.
The film uses a voiceover by Antoine de Baecque - a prolific cultural
historian - who lends a sense of gravitas and appreciation to
proceedings, he is helped by the use of film extracts from both Godard
and Truffaut, archive interviews and perhaps most perplexingly, a young
actress turning pages of vintage magazines as the voiceover tells us
what she is looking at.
This is where the documentary falls short; with such a distinctive
subject matter and with a brilliant conflict of interests between the
urbane Truffaut and rebellious Godard taking place there were surely
stories aplenty to share here. For instance, this is the first
time I realised the backstory to the triumphant 400 Blows screening was
that Truffaut, being critical of the Festival in his famous magazine
the year before, had been banned from Cannes so making his film
premiere sweet revenge. This type of information was not taught
us at film school, it was a common belief that Godard, Truffaut,
Chabrol, Rohmer all just picked up a camera and went guerilla like
Godard did for Breathless.
However, looking back on these films you get the sense that Truffaut
had a sense about what he was doing with 400 Blows and the way it was
shot gives it that one foot in the authentic cinema, and one foot in
the new wave owing to the depicition of youth - a polished rebellion in
Whilst the documentary may serve as reliant in academic circles and
film classes seeking background information on such established
directors, much like that actress (Isild Le Bosco) turning the pages of
archives, there is a whole lot more to be learnt from reading books,
especially Richard Brody's Godard biography Everything is Cinema (2008)
and for Truffaut seek out the Interviews with Hitchcock (1954).
Two in the Wave is released by New Wave Films on DVD and Blu-Ray and is