François Truffaut – La peau douce AKA The Soft Skin (1964)


Many of François Truffaut’s film have elements of the autobiographical and The Soft Skin is no exception. Written in collaboration with Jean-Louis Richard, the French director in renowned for having affairs with his leading ladies. Luckily for Truffaut he didn’t suffer the same fate as Jean Desailly does in the film.

On his way to deliver a talk about Balzac in Lisbon, a well-known writer and editor of a literary magazine Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly) meets and is instantly attracted to an air stewardess (Nicole – Françoise Dorléac). Despite seemingly living a happy life with his wife Franca (Nelly Benedetti) and their daughter, he is fascinated by her, and the pair embark on an affair. As Pierre attempts to covertly carry on the affair whilst fulfilling his speaking commitments, relationships become strained both home and away.

The Soft Skin is one of Truffaut’s best film. There’s an air of mystery and tension throughout. Cleverly made, it looks and feels like a spy drama; using music, editing and camerawork to gift it with an undertone of danger. Shot in black and white (which I feel is a medium where he did his best work) there are several similarities with America film noir of the ‘50s whilst being firmly entrenched in the swinging ‘60s. Pierre has to choose between living a studied intellectual life and existing in the moment.

Language(s):French, Portuguese, English

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