Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that the 12-year-old boy at the center of this French-language drama is a budding juvenile delinquent who lies, steals, smokes, swears (in subtitles), and repeatedly runs away from home. The plain, unsentimental filmmaking style neither condemns nor glorifies his misdeeds, and there are no easy solutions offered, with an especially big question mark at the end. The parents in the film are depicted as ineffective, and Antoine's mother in particular is an adulterous, immature type. A psychological interrogation briefly brings up topics of sex and abortion. Viewers dying to know what happens to Antoine after the final scene can track the same character's young adulthood in several subsequent Francois Truffaut movies.
A husband playfully grabs his wife's (fully clothed) breasts. The boy hero is asked by a psychologist if he's had sex (he replies frankly no, but some friends of his have). Mention of out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
Antoine is slapped once.
"S--t" and "a--hole" appear in some subtitled translations.
Though strong-willed and independent, Antoine is neither a "good" nor a "bad" boy, and definitely does things that are not to be imitated, like stealing and running away from home. While he seldom intentionally hurts people, he seems to be missing a sense of right and wrong in pursuit of his own goals -- when Antoine copies a paper in his homework to get a much-desired good grade, he does it so flagrantly that you wonder if he even has any awareness that he's cheating. Mothers, fathers, teachers, and authority figures are generally shown as impatient, distracted, and ill-equipped for guidance. Only other boys in the peer-group seem to exhibit loyalty and true friendship with each other.
References made to mid-century French films, books, and diversions, likely to be lost on modern audiences.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Much smoking in young Antoine's family, and the boy himself surreptitiously rolls his own handmade cigarettes. Underage drinking.