Domicile Conjugal

 (Francois Truffaut, France/Italy, 1970) 100 minutes


Director: Francois Truffaut
Producer: Marcel Berbert
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut,
  Claude de Givray, Bernard Revon
Cinematography: Nestor Almendros
Editor: Agnes Guillemot
Music: Antoine Duhamel
Jean-Paul Leaud (Antoine Doinel)
Claude Jade (Christine Darbon Doinel)
Daniel Ceccaldi (M. Darbon)
Claire Duhamel (Mme. Darbon)
Hiroko Berghauer (Kyoko)
Barbara Laage (Monique)
Jacques Jouanneau (Casarin)

Reviews and notes

Here is the fourth, and according to Trutfaut the last, of the Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) series, which began with great distinction in Les 400 coups and settled into lighter comic vein with the L'amour a vingt ans sketch and Les baisers voles. Now we find Antoine married to Christine, the girl he favoured in Les baisers voles (played by the same actress, Claude Jade) and their life together is mildly amusing, the only major crisis arising when Antoine is smitten for a time by a pretty yet petulant Japanese girl. His initial sight of her is Truffaut's cue to give us a nostalgic spot of diffused Griffith-masking.

Other points of reference for the in-crowd are the leather armchair wheeze from Tati's Playtime (Tati acknowledges this and other Truffaut compliments of the past by making a swift appearance as Hulot, whose ineptitude Antoine has always vaguely echoed), and a combined Hitchcock-Resnais hommage by another of those silent types who give rise to apprehension and then turn out to be harmless - knowing that we know this, Truffaut abandons the running gag well before the end of the film, and mingles the pay-off with a rather weak salute to Marienbad.

Antoine's tendency to keep switching occupations is still quite entertaining. His first job on this occasion is to dye white flowers red (which, if you want to go to extremes, you can take as a tribute to Alice - in Wonderland or on the other side of the looking glass, or wherever she was when they did it) but one flower in every batch resists the treatment and stays relentlessly white, a mystery that Antoine accepts as just another of life's many tribulations. I thought this was the best joke in the whole of Domicile conjugal.

The rest is adequate. Truffaut has said that he couldn't make any more Antoine films without turning the hero into a cinema director, a remark that affirms the general acceptance of the series as quasi- autobiographical, but not a good reason for stopping.
- Gordon Gow, Films and Filming, September 1971.

Weblink: Review by Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 4 May 1971.

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