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Angela,a striptease artist, wants to have a baby and tries to persuade her boyfriend Emile to go along with the idea. Emile will have none of it so she goes after Emile's friend Alfred. Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
Godard is beginning to grow on me. Maybe it's because I'm watching his films from the sixties, made when I was a teenager in France, and the nostalgia appeals to me. Maybe it's because his work seems free and easy, uncontrived, almost amateurish compared to some other famous film makers. Or maybe it's just that I like this particular pretty girl he features.
She is pretty, gangly Anna Karina starring as Angela, an exotic dancer who is madly in love and wants to have a baby. Godard has a lot of fun with her, encouraging her to mug for the camera, getting her to do movements that cause her to trip and look not just gangly and very young like a pre-adolescent, but even clumsy--and then to leave the shots in the film, probably telling her, "This is a comedy. You need to be not just beautiful, but funny, warm, vulnerable." Karina does manage a lot of vulnerability. Her exotic act including her singing is...well, there are usually only a handful of customers in the joint and so her skills are probably appropriately remunerated. Again this is intentional since Godard wants her to be just an ordinary girl without any great talent, someone with whom the girls in the audience can identify. But the irony is that the girl must needs be at least pretty. Karina is more than pretty. She is exquisite with her long shapely limbs and her gorgeous countenance.
One of the compelling nostalgic elements is the way women did their eyes in the sixties: so, so overdone! Although I thought that look was oh so sexy then, today I would like to clean the blue, blue--or is it purple?--eye shadow and the black, black mascara off of Karina's face and see her au naturel! But it is the sixties in Paris--Gay Paree, Paris in the Spring, the City of Light! Well, 1960 to be exact, which really is more like the fifties than the sixties if you know what I mean. Everything is so innocent, Ike still in the American White House, De Gaulle the triumphant hero of France. Algeria and Vietnam completely offstage of course--this is a romantic comedy. The German occupation, the horrific world war and its aftermath are distant memories for Angela and her friends who were only children then. Life is young, the girls are pretty, the boys are cute, prosperity is upon them. It's Godard's Paris. Life is playful. Life is fun. You tease and you have no real worries. The Cold War is of no concern. The 100,000 or so American troops still stationed in France to support the troops in Germany are not seen. But Godard's love affair with the mass American culture is there in little asides and jokes. Emile or Alfred (I forget which) asks Angela what she would like to hear on the jukebox. "Istsy-bitsy bikini," he offers. No. She wants Charles Aznavour. She wants romance and an adult love that leads to marriage and maternity.
Angela's beloved is Emile played with a studied forbearance by an eternally youthful Jean-Claude Brialy. He doesn't want to father a baby, at least not yet. She pouts, she makes faces, she threatens, she burns the roast and drops the eggs, she crosses her arms, and she gives him the silent treatment. It doesn't work. He prefers to read the Worker's Daily. Ah, but will Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo, who seems intent on out boyish-ing Brialy) pull himself away from TV reruns of "Breathless" to do the job? Will she let him? Is Emile really so indifferent as to allow his friend carnal knowledge of his girlfriend? Is this a kind of threesome, a prelude to a menage a trois? Watch for a shot of Jeanne Moreau being asked how Truffaut's film Jules et Jim (1962) which she was working on at the time, is coming along, a kind of cinematic insider jest that Godard liked to include in his films. She gives a one word reply, "Moderato." See this for Anna Karina, and see her also in Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964) in which she looks even more teenager-ish than she does here. She is not a great actress, but she is wondrously directed by Godard who was then her husband.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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