Thursday, September 21, 2006



Dir: Jean-Luc Godard (Alphaville)

I don't think Godard and I are going to get along. Sure, he's an OK guy and all. I certainly can see where other people would really like him. But there is just something about him that, well, bores me. I am sure it is my fault, that I am not giving him a chance. Too many people like that guy for me to be correct. And yet, I can't say that I would go out of my way to have a beer with the guy.

Breathless is one of those minimalist character studies of the stoic hood that has been done real well before, but here becomes so stripped down and sparse that it failed to grip my attention. A cop killer and otherwise bad guy woos an initally innocent American newspaper girl in Paris. At first just a fling, she soon is wrapped in his dangerous and cold lifestyle, forced to choose between joining his doomed fate or abandoning adventure.

People love this movie. But I found the plodding nature of the unfolding relationship tedious (God, I sound like those people I hate that just can't get into a film unless stuff blows up or some boobs are prominent in the first twenty minutes!). Godard was much more philosophical in Alphaville, where at least aphorisms gave me something to chew on amidst the lean plot. But here, the meaning is supposed to come from thigs like 20 minute scenes of the couple smoking in bed, the theif demanding sex and the girl being coy. I just didn't buy her with him. Now, the seduction of a dangerous lifestyle is easier to buy, and certainly the movie is at its height as she wrestles with her self destructive and youthful desire to live as this cold blooded killer does. But Godard's overall approach to that worthwhile subject is so detached and implied that even a somewhat savvy filmgoer like myself felt ignored by the movie.

I really didn't like Breathless. I wonder if I am flawed, or the others are pretentious. I am sure I will give Godard another look, invite him out for another drink. But I wouldn't be surprised if I walk out in the middle.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 9/22/2006 03:04:00 PM that...

So, let's make a deal. Which ever one of us figures out how to fully appreciate JLG has to tell the other. I think he is a filmmakers director. And combined with his general disdain for the masses (and Americans), his films are rarely confused with a pleasurable movie-going experience. One of his most recent films received a very harsh review from the NYT for being exceptionally dour and petty, mocking American cinema and culture (good for Stephen Holden). I think many Godard fans confuse cynicism and critique with erudition and sophistication (you know, just enough theory to be dangerous).

This review is interesting, I was always told that Breathless was his "most accessible" film. Well, that's saying a lot. Give me Truffant and Renais any day.  

Blogger paroske noted on 9/26/2006 06:58:00 PM that...

Breathless is accessible because it is understandable, but I just didn't think there was much there.

Alphaville was more confusing, but had a lot more for the viewer to engage.

I liked the latter more. But that could be because the former is too smart for me. Or (more likely?) others are too slavish to see that the emporer has no clothes.