The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

Critics Consensus

A seminal French New Wave film that offers an honest, sympathetic, and wholly heartbreaking observation of adolescence without trite nostalgia.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 58

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 38,676
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Movie Info

"The 400 Blows" marks the birth of legendary nouvelle vague character Antoine Doinel; his is the story of a 13-year-old wild child whose adventures were based on director Francois Truffaut's own adolescence.

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Cast

Jean-Pierre Léaud
as Antoine Doinel
Patrick Auffay
as Rene Bigey
Claire Maurier
as Mme. Doinel
Albert Remy
as M. Doinel
Guy Decombie
as Teacher
Yvonne Claudie
as Mme. Bigey
Robert Beauvais
as Director of the School
Jeanne Moreau
as Woman with Dog
Marius Laurey
as Police Clerk
François Truffaut
as Man in Funfair
Claude Mansard
as Examining Magistrate
Jacques Monod
as Commissioner
Pierre Repp
as The English Teacher
Henri Virlojeux
as Night Watchman
Jean-Claude Brialy
as Man in street
Jacques Demy
as Policeman
Christian Brocard
as Man with Typewriter
Luc Andrieux
as Gym Teacher
Jean Douchet
as The lover
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News & Interviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

Critic Reviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (58)

Audience Reviews for The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)

  • Jun 08, 2016
    To not have a mother's love is one of the most heartbreaking things in life. Antoine Doinel is an example of a kid who, on the surface, has a stable home life - with a roof over his head, a decent school, and parents who look out for him, albeit with them sometimes taking turns as one or another is often out at night. However, as the movie progresses, we get glimpses of just how difficult the young man's life is - his mother's infidelity, overheard arguments, and their careless comments. The way Truffaut slowly reveals the details is masterful, which is all the more impressive given this was the director's first film. Doinel is played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, who at 15 was taken under the 27-year-old Truffaut's wing as a kindred spirit of sorts, and he turns in a remarkable performance - natural, honest, and highly realistic. We see him acting out in school, cutting class, and getting into trouble. Even when he does try to apply himself, reading Balzac, it ends wrong at home, with the candle he's lit in a small shrine of sorts starting a fire, and at school, where out of inspiration he paraphrases Balzac so closely that he gets an F for plagiarism. There are many great shots, and the film is beautiful. The street scenes in Paris. A swirling centrifugal carnival ride. The shot from atop a tall building, which follows a school teacher as he leads the kids down the street, only to have groups of two and three of them peeling off along the way to get into mischief. Little children watching a puppet show, with rows and rows of faces reacting with such natural animation, and unmistakably telling us of their emotions. The interview with the psychologist, shown from her perspective, as Doinel answers her questions about why he lies and steals in a straightforward manner. That's a very powerful scene, and one that really ties it all together emotionally. This film will impact you. Its ending leaves the young man's fate unresolved - just as in life. He's at a crossroads of sorts. He may get into further trouble and spiral, becoming a criminal, or he may be saved by a passion for something, as Truffaut himself was with cinema, or by his inner good nature. We certainly hope for the latter, but can't help but worry. Put up with by his stepfather but unloved, a nuisance to his mother and deep down unwanted, labeled a bad kid by his teachers and put into the system - these things go deep into his core. In a non-cloying way, the film explains why some people turn out as they do, and makes us want to be more understanding and kind.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • May 21, 2013
    Finally saw it and it immediately leaped to the front of the list of my favourite Truffauts. Gorgeous tale of a misunderstood youth and how he tries and tries to deal with life's misfortunes.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 20, 2013
    A timeless coming-of-age film from François Truffaut, The 400 Blows captures the ups and downs of adolescence with an honest voice, humor, and a great deal of sympathy. The 400 Blows is a classic film through and through, and its easily among the best of its genre.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2013
    Francois Truffaut's directorial debut and great coming-of-age story 'The 400 Blows' stands as one of the best of its sub genre. With a great lead performance and assured direction, Truffaut handles this autobiographical film with remarkable ease and aesthetics. This film about a troubled youth growing up in Paris still stands as one that helped define the New Wave era in France.
    Kase V Super Reviewer

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