Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Claude Jade died today.
Over the summer and the fall I watched all the Antoine Doinel movies. Like nearly any guy who had an affinity for these movies I completely fell in love with Claude Jade. She was Christine. She was the love of Antoine Doinel's life. And she was the girl that he pushed away. Through his cheating, and foolishness she was the girl he lost. Still after that it was clear that she still loved him, though she knew it couldn't be. I remember shaking my had at Antoine and at the situation when post-divorce in Love on the Run after a conversation waiting for a cab she asks Antoine to a movie. And Antoine says no. And I think to myself what an idiot. And then I realize in the same situation I may have done the same thing.
When I read of this death it hit me a little harder than I thought it would. In the Antoine Doinel films, especially those after the 400 blows, I think a lot of guys saw bits of themselves in Antoine, and sometimes especially in the way he made his relationships harder on himself than they needed to be. And I think that a lot of those same guys saw in in Christine, the girl that they wanted. Innevitably she was a little bit smarter than us, a little bit more pulled together, and of course her family was as wonderful as could be. And beyond all that, she was as patient as cold be. Whatever follies Antoine was going through on his own, or putting the two of them through she was always patient and always there. I, and I suspect many others, hesitate to say she was too good for Antoine. I've already projected myself onto Antoine, so then whoever the girl is would be too good for me. And thats not meant to sound melancholy as much as a whimsical smile appreciation for how much those characters came into and became a part of life.
From the Guardian obituary
The director's love shines through his alter-ego Doinel in Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugal, 1970) and Love on the Run (1978), as Christine puts up with Antoine's foibles and affairs, patiently waiting for him to face up to the adult consequences of being a husband and father. Memorable scenes pass through the mind like a montage: her teaching Antoine the best way to butter toast in the morning, their writing each other little notes, his calling her "my little mother, my little sister, my little daughter" in a taxi, and she replying she would rather be his wife; her attempts to guess Antoine's latest job, amusingly suggesting cab driver or water taster, her reaction when Antoine hangs a scissors on her ring finger, his affectionate response to her wearing glasses in bed, the medium tracking shot of her legs as she stops at a shop for tangerines then heads up the stairs, as one of the neighbourhood men longingly admires them.
Truth told I haven't seen any other films she had been in besides Truffaut's Doinel films. Even if I had, I'd likely still remember her as Christine. I think I'll watch Bed and Board tonight.