Criterion Reviews – The 400 Blows

Sup, Slicers!? I’ve decided to write a series of film reviews. I know what you’re 🤔 💭 thinking, “another film review article!?”– but wait! Hear me out first!

As a “student of film” with an appreciation for filmmaking as an art, I’ve decided to commit to watching classic cinema that, for one reason or another, I’ve never gotten around to watching. To further my “studies” I’ll review only certified classics, from the criterion collection. I’ll then write a short review along with my personal rating, and a recommendation to either ‘Keep or Delete’.

For almost 50 years after the film’s release, The 400 Blows was commonly considered the best French film of all time.

The 400 Blows (1959)
French with English subtitles

Initially, I found it fascinating to see the culture and customs of a lower middle-class family in 1950s France. After a short while I became immersed in the story.

The 400 Blows is a story about a neglected youth who’s forced to find his own way in the world. The majority of the film is told from the child’s point of view. The stark contrast of this black and white film reminds me of a time when composition and story were key tools in a filmmaker arsenal.

What a refreshing change of pace this is from the super hero ladened summer blockbusters of today.

The film follows Antoine Doniel, a street smart 10 year old boy, as rebels against the disposition of his birth. His parents are neglectful, and school is the last thing on his mind. After getting kicked out of school for plagiarism, Antoine runs away from home to stay with his delinquent buddy’s bedroom.

One bad decision after another lands Antione in a serious situation. After steeling a typewriter, Doniel is sentenced to juvenile detention for delinquents. But at his age, does he even understand the weight of his consequences?

Full disclosure, The film is slow-moving at times, and not overly eventful. However, This film has a raw realism rarely captured on the screen.

I give this film a 4 of 6 on the Reel Rating Scale.

If you’re looking to watch a classic French film, I can think of no better film to recommend!

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Nic White

Program Director at CinemaSlice
Just your typical independent filmmaker, animator, vfx specialist, and creative content developer! I enjoy long walks on the beach while staring into my cell-phone screen and watching episodes of Black Mirror. #SupportIndependentFilmmaking

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