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also known as Deux de la vague

Two in the Wave2010

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  • 3.9
Directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut changed the face of cinema forever as members of the French New Wave. They also happened to be best friends. TWO IN THE WAVE documents their intensely combative and creative relationship during their time at Cahiers du Cinéma, their triumphant work on THE 400 BLOWS and BREATHLESS, and their dramatic falling out following the worker and student strikes of May 1968. It also presents the unique bond both filmmakers shared with the actor Jean-Pierre Leaud, who started his career as a child and grew up with Godard and Truffaut as brilliantly bickering father figures. Written and narrated by former Cahiers editor Antoine de Baecque, it is a meticulously researched examination of this vibrant and turbulent period in film history. With clips from over thirty films and rare interviews with Godard and Truffaut throughout their careers, TWO IN THE WAVE is an essential and often revelatory look at the life and work of two of cinema's inimitable masters.



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"...a loving tribute to the two artists whose names will forever be associated with the Nouvelle Vague and the friendship that bonded them for so many years." - Sean Axmaker, Turner Classic Movies

2 members like this review

Worth watching not only for film students and enthusiasts but helpful for get an insight of the times, where cinema was still a smaller business though with huge impact to politics.

Member Reviews (11)

Worth watching not only for film students and enthusiasts but helpful for get an insight of the times, where cinema was still a smaller business though with huge impact to politics.

2 members like this review

Excellent: thoughtful and informative documentary on the French New Wave, concentrating most upon Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

1 member likes this review

Great History of Nouvelle Vague early days.

top reviewer

This is a very disappointing documentary.

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top reviewer

Highly recommended. This outstanding documentary is a must see for all students and lovers of cinema. Deeply insightful about the history, evolution, and legacy of the French New Wave. Wonderful archival research, dialogue about art vs. politics, and the role/function of the auteur.

top reviewer

Insightful and loving tribute to the appointed leaders of the French Wave. This movement has had the greatest impact on modern, post 1970 American cinema; since Spielberg, Scorsese and most of the leading US filmmakers site Truffaut and Godard as major influences. And Truffaut and Godard were influenced by Orson Welles and Hitchcock, who were influenced by German Expressionism, who were influenced by French pioneers Feuillard, Guy and Melies.....and so it goes.

The salvation of this documentary depends on what type of viewer you are. If you are a young high school kid and you want to get to know a little about Godard and Truffaut, then good. If you are a cinephile then you just love having a documentary about Godard and Truffaut to consume. But the film picks and chooses certain details of particular stories which is annoying to say the least. Probably the most infuriating part of the documentary is the refusal of the documentarian (or anybody) to have a hardline opinion on anything, either man: their work, their beliefs, their opinions pertaining to the art form and in life, or the way they acted in certain situations, except some easy, sweeping generalities that are anything but revealing. Worth the watch, certainly, but in the end Two in the Wave is a lot of surface and not very much depth for two men and one behemoth of a movement that was as deep as anybody may ever know.

And here we are again.

It seems like all I have are the same complaints about biographical documentaries -- they're about rule-breaking innovators but refuse to innovate themselves; they tackle an intriguing story like a Wikipedia entry; they deflate event with anecdote, anecdote with generalism; the view of their subjects is so respectful and un-controversial they're reduced to mere mouthpieces, their human dimensions erased...

There's so much to be seen in the friendship, conflict, and conflicting methodologies of these two great directors, to be given such a surface-skimming overview can't help but disappoint. Truffaut and Godard had wildly differing working methods, but other than a few off-hand remarks about their differences, nothing on screen seeks to explore or elucidate these differences (or, heaven forbid, express an actual opinion about them).

More infuriating: even the paint-by-numbers anecdote-as-event rhythms here are etiolated and vague. We're shown a scene from THE 400 BLOWS: Antoine Doinel has stolen a typewriter from his father's office, but it's not going as planned. A couple of minutes later, we're told Truffaut once resorted to theft to pay the debts of his film club, started at age 16. Never mentioned: that Truffaut's theft was *of his stepfather's typewriter,* which later informed the scene *we just saw*. Why leave that out? Or say that Godard and Truffaut's relationship dissolved thanks to an "aggressive" letter Godard wrote to Jean-Pierre Léaud, who played Antoine, but fail to mention that Truffaut's issue with the letter was that Godard asked Léaud for money, which Truffaut believed was beyond the pale for a successful older film director to ask for funds from a broke young actor? Or that Godard, like Truffaut, resorted to theft (in this case, rare books from his mother's library) in order to finance the first short films of the new wave? These are surely embarrassing incidents to all involved, but noteworthy for how they inform our impressions of these men as people, not fated geniuses-to-be.

Of course, I whinge. The contemporary footage of Godard, Truffaut and Léaud in interview is fascinating, and there two great moments of editorial montage. One where we jump from scene to scene to scene in a half-dozen of the men's work, each one set inside of a movie theater, and the other where we see Jean-Pierre Léaud go from 14-year-old to old man and back again, following his age from film film to film, BOYHOOD-style.

But more could have been done here, so much more. Perhaps, one day, we will learn from our predecessors, and honor them with our deeds deed, not just with our words.


Insightful! I would also recommend to watch Les 400 coups and À bout de souffle before, and to read one or two articles about the New Wave so to enjoy this very good documentary...

Two In the Wave is a documentary mostly made up of old interviews of Truffaut and Godard and film clips of their works. It traces the rise and fall (arguably) of these two auteurs’ film careers and friendship. Some more context could have been given concerning Laurent’s involvement with these Godard and Truffaut and the pretty woman who is occasionally featured reading things and wandering about. The parts focusing on the events leading up to the 1968 riots and Jean-Pierre Léaud’s involvement with Truffaut and Godard were particularly interesting. I don’t think I would have liked this movie as much without prior knowledge of these mens’ films. I would recommend at least seeing Breathless and The 400 Blows before watching this documentary.