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There’s a certain kind of film that plunges its young protagonist into the world and then just ends with a freeze frame, indicating that one phase is over but much more is to come. That final moment of suspension is one of the enduring gifts of The 400 Blows, François Truffaut’s 1959 feature debut. The director would later become the most conventional filmmaker of the French New Wave’s instigators, but this semi-autobiographical tale gives no hint of that future. Freewheeling and unsentimental, the movie tracks the progress of 13-year-old Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud, who would return as the same character in subsequent Truffaut films). The boy escapes from reform school and finds himself on the New Wave’s defining location: the streets of Paris. If Truffaut gave Doinel a harder childhood than he himself endured, this is a rare cinematic childhood saga that isn’t unpalatably oversweetened. The film runs to Thursday, Dec. 13, at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $9.25. (301) 495-6700; see Showtimes
for a complete schedule.