Cinema: As a Man Grows Older

The Soft Skin. In U.S. cinemate circles, the triangle is considered square. Among French moviemakers, on the contrary, it is respected as a fundamental unit of the social structure. Year after year, with relentless Gallic rationality, the finest French directors elaborate ever more complex problems of emotional trigonometry. In The Soft Skin, however, Director François Truffaut (The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim) describes a given triangle with perfect simplicity, perfect elegance. If only he had let it go at that.

At the apex stands a middle-aged intellectual (Jean Desailly). A middle-aged schoolboy, from...

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