But back to the beginning. The brats terrorize, in their pre-teen way, an older girl, who spends most of the film cruising about on a bicycle, her skirt billowing, her legs pumping, revving the RPMs of each not-yet-adolescent heart just shaking out the dust of the French equivalent of cooties. The girl ends up with a boyfriend, and the brats pranking increases, for they aren't old enough to rank the lowly title of boyfriend, can't yet understand losing themselves in a field of flowers, in a pair of eyes. It's hard to believe there is a time when adolescence is a step up, is evolution. But Truffaut, a wild child-man, knew.
The moment, the strange movie moment, occurs when the brats are left alone with the girl's bike, while she wanders off with her boyfriend for a necking party in the woods. Truffaut slows the movie down, time expands, and one brat lowers his head reverently to sniff at her bicycle seat. When time returns, he doesn't scrunch up his face, he doesn't skip about at the edges of adulthood. When he raises his head, he looks unchanged, as if everything were as it should be, as if he knew what he knew, as if nothing could change a brat.
For some reason, I want to say the movie ends more bitter than sweet, that the boyfriend dies, or moves away, or falls out of love. But all I recall for sure is one brat, his nose to sweaty leather, learning what he's in for, not turning away.