Godard Mon Amour
Biography / Comedy / Drama / Romance
Godard Mon Amour
Biography / Comedy / Drama / Romance
Paris, 1967. Jean-Luc Godard, the maker of "A bout de souffle", "Le Mépris" and "Pierrot le fou", idolized by critics and intellectuals, is shifting from revolutionizing cinema to becoming a revolutionary tout court. Isn't he shooting "La Chinoise", more a political tract in favor of Maoism than an actual movie? His female star is Anne Wiazemsky, writer François Mauriac's granddaughter, sixteen years his junior. Anne and Jean-Luc have been dating since 1966 and they marry this very year. She admires Jean-Luc's originality, intelligence, wit and boldness while he loves Anne's freshness and - admiration of him. But May 1968 puts their marriage to the test. Godard, who is more and more involved in the revolution, indeed becomes less and less available to his young wife, which does not prevent him from acting jealous. It also looks as if the genius is losing his sense of humor.
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September 10, 2018 at 04:03 AM
Pierrot le Mépris
Non-admirers of Jean-Luc Godard probably won't be bothering to watch this film in the first place, but I'm sure they'd be reasonably satisfied with the hatchet job that author Anne Wiazemsky and director Michel Hazanavicius have done on Godard, since even most of his admirers as a filmmaker and political guru probably already had a pretty bleak estimation of him as a human being.
Being based on a 2015 memoir by Godard's long estranged ex-wife, the late Anne Wiazemsky (1947-2017), the film is inevitably going to be as much about her as him, and its depiction of him even more inevitably from her jaundiced viewpoint. This also unfortunately means that the film concentrates on their time together between their marriage in 1967 and their separation in 1970, when both his gifts as a filmmaker and passion for cinema had recently curdled; although there was still enough of the film nerd in him to claim with a straight face (in probably the film's best scene) the legacy of Jerry Lewis more worthwhile than that of Jean Renoir. (I wonder how Godard took the news - if it ever reached him - of Lewis's later enthusiasm for Reagan and Trump.)
During his previous marriage to Anna Karina he was probably just as difficult a husband but hadn't become the politically doctrinaire bore and boor that Wiazemsky had to deal with (she portrays him as self-centred and neglectful rather than abusive). Godard's admirers at the time and since have tended to excuse the calamitous decline in the quality of his films after 1965 as politically justified, since they saw the unwatchable screeds he was now churning out as the legitimate expression of his commitment to "make films politically" by no longer making them entertaining rather than because he'd simply lost it.
Louis Garrel gives an energetic performance in the lead, but is too tall and good looking (he actually looks more like Jean-Pierre Léaud), fails to capture the nasal voice familiar from Godard's own films, his perennial 5 o'clock shadow has become designer stubble and then a full beard by the time the film ends; and he just isn't as weird and inscrutable as the man himself remains to this day.
Hazanavicius throughout lovingly recreates the look of Godard's early 60's films when he was in his prime, but treats him more as a comical figure like Woody Allen, complete with the running joke lifted from 'Take the Money and Run' in which his glasses keep getting broken and the admirer who like those in 'Stardust Memories' wishes he'd make another "funny film". (Not that Godard's pre-1968 films were all light-hearted bon-bons by any stretch of the imagination. 'Le Petit Soldat' and 'Les Carabiniers', anyone?)
A clever portrait of a very tricky subject: Jean-Luc Godard
LE REDOUTABLE , Michel Hazanavicius, In Competition at Cannes 2017. The French title refers to a formidable opponent which seems very appropriate considering who this story is about. image2.jpeg This films comes here with high expectations because the subject of the film is Jean-Luc Godard, arguably the most famous and surely the most controversial French film director of the XX. century and until now nobody has ventured or dared to make a biopic about the cantankerous 86 year old cinéaste.
Michel Havanacius, director of the 2011 Oscar winning film The Artist has now taken that step and cast popular fast rising actor Louis Garrel as his Godard. The picture focuses on the making of La Chinoise in 1967 which was a major turning point in Godard's career and featured young actress Anne Wiazemsky whom Godard married after the making of that film. He was then 36 and she was nineteen. It was a stormy marriage following his first marriage to another of his stars, Anna Karina, and only lasted two years when Godard was at the peak of his fame and also the acme of his unbridled arrogance ...which is emphatically presented throughout. The film is basically a study of the collapse of that marriage and Godard's embracing of Maoist revolutionary politics which completely altered his career trajectory and sharply divided his fan base while destroying his marriage as well. Hazanavicius most successfully captures the atmosphere of the time and the year that this Cannes film festival was closed down by Godard and other New Wavers as a protest against the oppression of the government of Degaulle. He also captures the purposeful naughtiness of Godard films by throwing in female and female frontal nudity arbitrarily, clearly meant as a sly comment rather than a titillation. Other Godardian devices such as obscene graffiti and inter-titles and jump cuts add to the nouvelle vague flavor. Wiazemsky is effectively played played by actress Stacy Martin who was featured alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac a few years back. Louis Garrel was a good choice to impersonate Godard and turns in a commendable job even if it is more of an impersonation than entering the skin of his subject -- which, considering the type of slippery personality Godard actually is, would be an almost impossible job.
This is overall a rather light and breezy treatment of what could have been a very knotty and heavy handed film in less skillful hands. Hazanavicius has the right touch for this touchy subject Jean-Luc himself has called the film "a stupid, stupid, idea" -- one would hardly expect him to call any film about himself anything else. For Nouvelle Vague and Godard buffs this film is essential "reading".
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It is such a pity
It is such a pity that it was not enough for the director to talk about Godard, he also tried to make a film in Godard's style. In my opinion, he was not able to capture the "Godard mood" at all. Instead, the film is executed in a textbook manner, meticulously using Godard's cinematic language like a receipt and that's always a risky move (for example, Gus Van Sant's case with Psycho). Godard is Godard not for using these elements, but because he used them at the right time and in the right way. If this would have been done by breaking new grounds in cinematic language, or even without breaking the mould in such a way BUT finding the right tone, I would have liked the film much more. Godard's world has a sexy, humorous yet tragic atmosphere, where the viewer feels for the characters. To be honest, when watching a Godard movie, I'm always terribly envious that I was not born at the time of Belmondo. Here, I did not feel this longing, sadly. Having said that, the actors are cute and the director seems to be cool and all, judging from interviews, so it may be that I'm just too sentimental. :)