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Two In the Wave

2010
Distributed by Kino Lorber Edu, 333 West 39 St, Suite 503, New York, NY 10018; 212-629-6880
Produced by Emmanual Laurant
Directed by Emmanual Laurant
DVD, color and b&w, 92 min., French with English subtitles
Sr. High - General Adult
Cinema, French Cinema, New Wave Cinema


Reviewed by Gerald Notaro, University Librarian, Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 9/8/2011

How appropriate the words new wave describe the tsunamic effect French filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut of the late 1950ís and early 1960ís had on cinema. They sat as other French youths did in small cramped viewing rooms and stairwells, long before a formal Cinemateque Francaise Museum, absorbing a world-class education from the likes of cinema guru and archivist Henri Langlois. He was saving films by day, showing them at night, and creating the cinematic wave that Godard and Truffaut rode to world recognition. The documentary Two In the Wave chronicles the friendship of filmmakers Godard and Truffaut, both film critics for the magazine Cahiers du Cinema early in their careers. But it is also a film about the birth of the French New Wave itself and its subsequent influences.

The story of Truffautís The 400 Blows improbable screening and explosive reactions at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival unfolds in the documentary with a young woman reading the print accounts as varying voice-overs narrate. Later in the film she sits in an empty theater, supposedly watching films. Who might she be? Perhaps she is a granddaughter, or a film student doing research. It is effective if somewhat distracting.

When Godard follows with his equally fiery and unpredictable Breathless they both discover how to easily work within the film establishment they were ultimately railing against. Though Godard and Truffaut had found their influence in classic Hollywood, their films were stark, improvised, and rejected the slickness of tried and true techniques. It is interesting that 17 years later some of the public and critical reaction was similar to Arthur Pennís Bonnie and Clyde, it later recognized as an archetype of New Hollywood.

Two In the Wave also examines their earlier short films, shot experimentally while Godard and Truffaut were still critics for the print Cahiers du Cinema. The styles that would later become evident in their feature films are clearly foretold, apparent youthful innocence corrupted by life. Like most movements, whether political and/or artistic, it is a movement by and for the young. And like all youth, they age. This excellent film reveals their reluctant emergence as father figures of the movement. Two In the Wave is indispensible viewing for all film and cinema fans. A highly recommended purchase.