The Soft Skin

Truffaut offers a realistic look at infidelity in The Soft Skin (1964) where Pierre Lachenay, a publisher and scholar known from his TV appearances, gets obsessed with Nicole, a flight attendant, and starts an affair with her. Pierre has a sort of budding butterball look. He could be the Pillsbury Doughboy’s French father. He is smart, yet bland. He’s married to an attractive woman and they have a young daughter whom he dotes on. He doesn’t hate his life, but when he sees Nicole on a flight, he becomes smitten.

He later sees her at a hotel and follows her to find out her room. It’s a bit stalker-ish, but not quite. Nicole who’s probably half Pierre’s age is interested. She hasn’t experience romantic love and is in awe of Pierre’s success.

Throughout the film Pierre and Nicole have difficulty meeting up. Their rendezvous always go awry. Perhaps an old friend meets Pierre and asks to go for a drink. He’ll respond that he must drive back to Paris and the friend will say that’s where he wants to go and figures they can drive together. All the while Nicole’s twiddling her fingers back at the hotel where they’re staying. Such obstacles crop up again and again. Ever nervous, Pierre bungles along with his poor plans and lies. Yes, Nicole is young, beautiful and energetic, but having the affair is offset by the stress of lies and running around only to be thwarted.

Eventually Franca Pierre’s wife realizes something’s off. After awhile Franca gives up on the marriage and asks for a divorce. Freed, Pierre agrees, but he soon finds that breaking with Franca does not lead to bliss in a new posh apartment with Nicole.

The film is beautiful and Truffaut’s direction is sophisticated and engaging. He films intimacy in such a classy, real way. He shows affairs as they really are, not all romance, not all due to a horrible spouse. Infidelity certainly doesn’t lead to a blissful new romance and a break with past problems.

Blue Jasmine


Woody Allen’s 2013 film was Blue Jasmine, the story of the financial, social and emotional fall of Jasmine, the wife of a wealthy wheeler dealer. I saw Blue Jasmine on a flight and am glad I didn’t fork out the money to see it in the theater. It’s not one of Allen’s finest, though the actors do a good enough job given the script.

After her Madoff-like husband, who we only see in flashbacks when all was well, loses everything, Jasmine moves in with her working class sister in San Francisco. Shell-shocked from the fall, Jasmine hopes to rebuild her life and regain her status. She is ill at ease in her sister’s world and looks down on her sister’s boyfriend, who’s something of a working class caricature. In fact, that’s the problem I had with the film – it’s full of stock characters and although Jasmine spends a lot of time looking back at what went wrong and pondering what she should do next, it’s all so superficial. When the film started, I’d hoped for more, for a more serious version of the heights Allen attained with Midnight in Paris. It’s hard to summon much sympathy for Jasmine as she is delusional and the world she lost was so empty anyway.

The dialog is typical of Allen’s style, but that’s hardly enough to make watching Blue Jasmine worth the time. All in all, I found the film annoying and disappointing. I wish Allen didn’t feel compelled to direct a film a year. Better to spend more time getting the story right, than to offer us substandard fare.