The Mischief Makers is undeniably well-made, with great photography from Jean Malige (if lousy editing by Cécile Decugis) and Truffaut’s deliberate and panoramic composition.
It’s an adaptation of a short story, about a group of adolescent boys who playfully torment a young woman they’re crushing on. While it’s got a couple awkward moment or two, the boys are never really threatening. And, even though Truffaut establishes the woman is one of the boys’ sister, they’re unnecessary.
Mischief would be stronger without them, in fact, particularly since Truffaut thinks adolescent boys are just the most interesting thing ever. The short’s a constant rationalizing of them being little jerks. There’s no dialogue from the boys–instead one narrates from the future; Truffaut’s not willing to let them be visibly mean.
Bernadette Lafont is weak as the girl, but Gérard Blain is good as her beau.
Mischief meanders on way too long.
Directed by François Truffaut; screenplay by Truffaut, based on a story by Maurice Pons; director of photography, Jean Malige; edited by Cécile Decugis; music by Maurice Leroux; released by Les Films de la Pléiade.
Starring Bernadette Lafont (Bernadette Jouve) and Gérard Blain (Gérard); narrated by Michael François.