Pierre Lachenay is a well-known publisher and lecturer, married with Franca and father of Sabine, around 10. He meets an air hostess, Nicole. They start a love affair, which Pierre is hiding, but he cannot stand staying away from her.
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Pierre Lachenay, a middle-aged, well-known publisher and lecturer, is married to Franca, an unbalanced woman, and father of Sabine, a 10-year-old girl. While traveling to Lisbon for a lecture, Pierre Lachenay has a one night stand with Nicole, the Panair do Brasil air stewardess. He wants to see her again and again, they travel to Reims together, and Pierre hides the affair from his family, mostly to spare his daughter the anguish of a separation. Nicole is taking it lightly but Pierre, misunderstanding her feelings and expectations, decides to live with her. The couple's break-up leads to a tragic end. Written by
Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly) is a successful writer. He is leaving Paris for Lisbon to give a conference on "Balzac et l'argent". On the flight to Lisbon he feels instant attraction for a beautiful flight stewardess. In Lisbon he'll discover that he's staying at the same hotel as her. Pierre wastes no time and gets to know her. Her name is Nicole (Françoise Dorléac). She is spontaneous and easy-going, but it's easy to detect the romantic streak in her. They start an affair right there in Lisbon. She gives him her Paris telephone number. He calls her. They meet. In Paris their relationship grows in intensity.
Pierre is a married man. His wife is also a good-looking woman and he has a 10-year-old daughter that loves him (as does his wife). Pierre is an intellectual with an organized life, maybe having had some flings here and there, but nothing that really threatened the comfortable foundations of his life. But now he has met Nicole. And Nicole represents everything that Pierre had never really experienced before: she has a real "joie de vivre" but underneath it, there is pain, and above all, strength - the strength to overcome sadness and start all over again, that is, to live right here and now.
Pierre, on the other hand, as an intellectual, lives a life of compromises. His wife, Franca (Nelly Benedetti), loves him and has a strong personality. She knows exactly what she wants and is determined to fight for it. Pierre is between two strong women. He loves Nicole - she has opened a new life, a new world for him. Will he follow his heart? And where will his heart lead him? I think that "La Peau Douce" is one of the more personal films made by Truffaut. It has a psychological subtlety not displayed in his later works (be it his later Antoine Doinel films, his literary adaptations, or his homages - to Hitchcock, Jean Renoir etc..). Never again would Truffaut reach the depth of "La Peau Douce".
"La Peau Douce" reveals understanding (and tenderness) for all the characters, but alongside these traits there's also a bitter irony and even some touches of dark comedy. The characters are shown in all their weaknesses and beauty. In later Truffaut films the tenderness would be the prevailing feature - the irony would come along in a watered-down form.
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