7 January 2022

François Truffaut's Domicile conjugal | Bed and Board (1970)

This is the fourth film in the Antoine Doinel series, and of course he hasn't grown up, or maybe doesn't want to grow up, or is an insensitive Aspie. Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud as always) is now married to Christine (Claude Jade): he works for a florist, and she teaches violin. And she's proud to be married, although he still exhibits the same immaturity/awkwardness/Asperger sydrome traits as in previous films.

Christine becomes pregnant and Antoine begins to work (by default and misunderstanding) in Paris for an American research company: Antoine's main job is showing foreign visitors the hydraulics of miniature boats. There's a clash: Christine wants to call the child Ghislain, although Antoine officially registers him as 'Alphonse', after (it seems) Daudet (or could it be Benjamin Constant's nouvelle?. And then Antoine falls for, and has a relationship (largely instigated by Kyoko (Hiroko Berghauer)) with a Japanese visitor. As in Baisés volés, they also exchange messages while the other is there, and soon Christine has had enough because she realises what's going on.

But then it's not long before Antoine too has has enough of Kyoko's speechlessness and various 'foreign' ways, and at a restaurant with Kyoko, bored with her because she says nothing to him, Antoine phones Christine three long times. He returns to find Kyoko gone with an insulting note, and goes back to Christine and Alphonse, or Ghislain.

Odd things to note in the film: at Christine's parents Antoine mentions their 'striglias' plants, which he says are often confused with 'oubiglias': neither of these plants exist, although his parents-in-law don't react; nor do they to react to Antoine telling them that Mothers' Day is a Nazi invention. There is also a scene in which a distinct caricature of Jacques Tati waits at a métro platform and then boards a train. Maybe not the best of the saga, but still interesting.

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