(1979; French) The last in the series, which satisfyingly sums up the preceding films, from The 400 Blows through Bed and Board, of director/co-writer François Truffaut's films of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud).
After eight years of marriage, including three in separation, Antoine and Christine (Claude Jade), still pretty and proper, are finalizing their divorce. Spending his nights with cute, playful Sabine Barnerias (Dorothee), telling her he's decided to be a celibate (she wrestles him to the floor, making him late for his appointment), Antoine rushes off to the judge for finalizing the terms of settlement; he and Christine attract some media attention for being the first divorce under the new mutual-consent law.
A former love interest (she appeared briefly with her husband Albert and their child in Stolen Kisses), a long, dark-haired beauty, Colette (Marie-France Pisier), now a lawyer, notices Antoine, asking her colleague whether she should offer her condolences or congratulations. She goes to the Barnerias bookstore in search of Antoine's novel, Les Salades de L'Amour (Love's Other Troubles), and to see its owner Xavier (Daniel Mesguich), dropping audible hints where she's going as she departs the shop.
At the train station, seeing his son Alphonse off to music camp, Antoine sees Colette, inside the coach of the train opposite, wave to him; on impulse he gets onboard. In her compartment she reads the novel, recognizing herself as one of the female characters; here and elsewhere Truffaut flashes back into each of his other films about Doinel. When she receives word that a gentleman is waiting for her in the dining coach, she expects to find Xavier but instead is happily surprised to find Antoine.
After catching up on their separate histories since their last encounter - mostly Antoine narrates the difficulties of his marriage with Christine following the intrusion of Liliane (Dani), Christine's violin student who became a third party, not counting Alphonse, in their family - Colette points out inconsistencies in the story; it's autobiographical, Antoine concedes, but also fictional.
Complimenting his writing, Colette says he'll never be a real writer until he can create characters and situations from his imagination. He replies he has such a fiction that he's currently composing: his hero while waiting outside a telephone booth overhears a man inside obviously breaking up with someone over the phone and then tears a photograph to pieces; once the man has left, the hero picks up the ripped bits, puts them into his pocket, and later tapes them together; employing a few clues on the back, he begins a difficult search of the city to find the girl whose face he's fallen in love with.
When asked for more, Antoine says he's stuck as to how to continue but offers some possible ideas, all of which she dismisses as unworthy of the intriguing opening but consistent with his self-centeredness. The conductor delivers a message from a man she'd passed in the corridor (whom she'd called an ape earlier, though not to his face), offering to pay her 1000 francs to sleep with him; when Antoine attempts to kiss her, she scolds him - "You haven't changed" - that their friendship never included love because he was always so needy and remains so.
As he departs (lacking a ticket he needs to get off the train before being discovered), he accidentally drops a photograph, which Colette later picks up and slips inside her book. The photograph of a young blonde female, whom she doesn't associate with Antoine, because on the back the surname leads her to think it fell from the book and belongs to Xavier, implicating him for having misled her into believing he is a bachelor, not a married man.
Looking for Sabine (who's fed up with Antoine's intrigues, quirks, and using her for material in his writings) at the record store (she instructs another employee to say she's not been in all day), Antoine realizes the photo is missing. Unexpectedly Mr Lucien, Antoine's mother's principal lover, whom he hasn't seen since childhood, appears on the scene, asking why Antoine didn't attend his mother's funeral nearly a decade earlier (he was in a military prison in Germany following another AWOL incident); learning that Antoine has never visited the grave because he was unaware of its location, they go together.
Bearing an envelope she believes may contain the remaining piece of the puzzle in this pièce de résistance, Colette (considering her personal history has courageously decided to defend a father accused of murdering his young child) encounters Christine (still in love but unable to fulfill all the roles other than wife Antoine expected of her), both seeking Sabine (deeply disappointed with Antoine for having added her to his collection of nice girls) and a completely convincing conclusion.
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