The 400 blows

400 blows★★★

He defaces the classrooms walls during a lecture by a  strict teacher.  And then much later he steals a bottle of milk that was just delivered on a doorstep.  He is Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a plucky schoolboy who is prone to foolishness. Not that he is mean intentioned. He seems fun spirited and has a friend (René Bigey) who is like a partner in crime. 

Then he goes home for dinner and his parents are shown with their own distinct personalities. The stepfather (Albert Rémy) behaves friendly at first and the mother (Claire Maurier) seems a bit high strung. Things seem almost normal until Antoine discovers a painful truth about her.  

The family backstory is not immediately uncovered. It is in the latter scenes that reveal perhaps why Antoine is the way he is.  Past parental decisions regarding the upbringing of Antoine can draw uncomfortable and upset reactions. His decision to steal a typewriter is the lowest point of his criminal attempts, but not likely to be his last crime.

The French film directed by François Truffaut and shot by Henri Decaë in black and white, has a casual approach. Behaviors are natural. It presents a series of events, a chain reaction that shaped a boy’s life.