Francois Truffaut's fourth film in his five-movie part-semi-autobiographical, part-fictional series about Antoine Doinel makes one smile with its warm moments while frustrating with his restlessness and his refusal to grow up. He is tremendously lucky to have found Christine, a warm, witty, and self-reliant girl who loves him despite his flaws and has the ability to take a step back from the relationship when Antoine transgresses.
Antoine, while a generally lovable young man, has an air of self-importance and put-on intellectualism, which Christine can see through and call out. He lacks the farsightedness and insight to see his decisions through or defend them. Like, he agrees with Christine to name their son Ghislain, but registers him as Alphonse, a name he clearly prefers. When he is caught, he doesn't even care to explain. His vocal declarations about the uselessness of a phone and people's stupid ability to be bored despite all that is there to do in the world (he wishes he had 30 hours a day to do all that he wants) are rendered hollow, when towards the end he keeps going back to a phone booth to repeatedly call Christine to relieve himself of the boring life he has found for himself. A deep shade of red, an obsessive pursuit of his, overpowers his senses when he takes in too much of it. The film is endearingly presented, but does not shy away from telling the truth about Antoine.
Part of us wonders why Christine chooses to remain with this man who keeps disappointing her. However, in a throwback to the first film in the series (The 400 Blows), and a brief exchange between the two characters after their separation here, we realise that Christine is more like a mother to him than a wife, which is why she keeps letting him back into her life and is a comforting and nurturing presence. It is something he has never had.
One bit we really loved? Christine bites into a bar of chocolate after she kicks Antoine out of their home upon learning of his infidelity.
Domicile conjugal (Bed and Board) is available to stream on Mubi India.