What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 12-year-old boy at the center of this French-language drama is a budding juvenile delinquent who lies, steals, smokes, swears (in subtitles), and repeatedly runs away from home. The plain, unsentimental filmmaking style neither condemns nor glorifies his misdeeds, and there are no easy solutions offered, with an especially big question mark at the end. The parents in the film are depicted as ineffective, and Antoine's mother in particular is an adulterous, immature type. A psychological interrogation briefly brings up topics of sex and abortion. Viewers dying to know what happens to Antoine after the final scene can track the same character's young adulthood in several subsequent Francois Truffaut movies.
  • Families can talk about whether Antoine Doinel is really a "good" boy or an incorrigible "delinquent." Could have made better choices in life, given his environment and upbringing? Ask kids what they might have done in Antoine's place, or if they know anyone like him. Generations of critics have called this one of the best and most insightful films ever made about boyhood. Agree? Disagree? Students of the French language and culture could take home some lessons from the settings, dialogues, and literary references (such as Balzac).
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