From Best Friends To Bitter Enemies

From Best Friends To Bitter Enemies

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
New Wave Films

Release date: February 11th 2011
Running time: 91 minutes
Certificate (UK): U

Director: Emmanuel Laurent
Langauge: French with English subtitles

Featured in archive footage: Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Léaud

Much has been said and written about the friendship between Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, the two leading filmmakers of the French New Wave in the 1950s and ’60s. But now, for the first time, we get a chance to see and hear about how deep that friendship ran and how much the destruction of it hurt them.

Using archive footage, clippings, interviews and letters, documentary filmmaker Emmanuel Laurent, with biographer and historian Antoine de Baecque piece together the story of how these two cinemaphiles went from critiquing the films in the magazine Cahiers du cinema to making them.

Two In The Wave

Truffaut’s films such as The 400 Blows (1959) and Jules and Jim (1962), along with Godard’s Breathless (1960) and My Life to Live (1962) told stories of everyday life and their characters spoke the language of everyday people. Their films reflected the times they lived in and resonated with audiences who were looking for something sincere in movies to contrast with the post-war musicals and romances Hollywood was churning out. The “concept of the auteur” was born with filmmakers like Truffaut and Godard; where a film would be the director’s own philosophy and vision.

Theirs was a friendship rooted in admiration, respect and a shared love with cinema and their films would comment on each other’s work. That was until their great falling out over politics in the aftermath of the May 1968 strikes in France.

Narrated by de Baecque, we are invited to explore the early years of Truffaut and Godard before their time at Cahiers du cinema, learning about how their passion for cinema developed and how they met. From there it takes us to their great years together before arriving at that bitter break-up with actor Jean-Pierre Léaud caught in the middle, like a child between warring parents. They would remain enemies until Truffaut’s death in 1984.

Two In The Wave -Jean-Pierre Léaud

Godard continues to make films. His most recent, Socialism (2010) was presented at Cannes last year, but he has never been the same without Truffaut. In an extract from an interview shown, he talks about Truffaut no longer being there to protect him, leaving us to reflect on this for a few seconds in silence when asked why.

Two In The Wave is unlike most documentaries I’ve come across in that it concentrates solely on the time it is devoted to. It doesn’t feature interviews with anyone looking back on the past, so there are no studio interviews with movie posters in the background; instead we have actress and filmmaker Isild Le Besco as a silent host guiding us as she moves through the archives. We see footage, interviews, letters and clippings from that time only, keeping a tight focus on the story it’s telling. Although the documentary is subtitled in English, it helps if you can speak a little French so that you might not miss any of the great archive material while reading.

Challenging, engaging, in-depth and wonderfully assembled, Two In The Wave is a must-see documentary for anyone who is looking to learn more about the French New Wave and two of the filmmakers who shaped it.

Read our » exclusive interview with director Emmanuel Laurent!

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