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.Written by
At the beginning of 1968 Jean-Luc Godard is one of the most highly-respected directors working in French-language cinema. He is influential and admired. He has also just married Anne Wiazemsky, a teenage actress seventeen years his junior. He has the more arty end of the film world at his feet, yet he is feeling restless.
Then erupt the Paris student protests which sweep Godard up in their revolutionary fervour. He becomes a supporter of the movement, and his opinions are in turn sought out by the young leaders (although, in the best tradition of ideologues everywhere, they also spend a large amount of their time arguing). As his marriage to Wiazemsky suffers, Godard heads further down what some might describe as a Maoist path, culminating - for this film's purposes - in the establishment of a sort of film-making collective without heirarchy - Godard may be the director, but his artistic vision is subordinate to the will of the workers. Hah!
From the plot description this might seem like a terribly gloomy film; far from it. It is actually very playful: as Godard, Louis Garrel has to deliver directly to camera the line "I bet if you told an actor to say actors are dumb, he would do it"; and a scene where Godard and Wiazemsky (played by the frequently-undraped Stacy Martin) discuss film directors' enthusiasm for nude scenes is played with both actors naked. How accurate Garrel's portrayal is I am unable to say, but for an actor who has rarely before displayed any comedy chops he provides a fine, subtly comic turn here; I particularly like the hangdog look his Godard at times displays.
I am not massively familiar with either Godard or his work; I have little patience with pretention. But this film makes the famed auteur a more accessible - sometimes rather likeable - individual, without glossing over his faults (rudeness; arrogance; a controlling element in his relationship with Wiazemsky). Whether it is a fair representation of him I do not know, but it makes for a very interesting film.
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