A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
This film explores a Parisian woman's descent into prostitution. The movie is comprised of a series of 12 "tableaux"-- scenes which are basically unconnected episodes, each presented with a worded introduction. Written by
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"Birds are creatures with an outside, and an inside. When you remove the outside, you see the inside. When you remove the inside, you see the soul." "Vivre Sa Vie" is an incredibly desultory film about a confused girl (Nana) with an existential crisis; namely, the task of reconciling her decision to become a prostitute with her belief in a free will. As the repercussions of the "painting" she has rendered gradually spiral out of control, Nana becomes progressively more alienated from and confused about her life. This culminates in a chilling scene in a diner, where she lays her soul bare before a well-meaning philosopher, who responds to her desperate queries about the gulf between words and emotions with more words. Erudite words that she cannot possibly understand.
Godard probes his favorite existential motifs with wonderful sensitivity here. When Miss Karina espouses her belief that a "plate is a plate" and a "life is a life", the overwhelming sadness in her eyes betrays the torment of a woman who feels torn from her self by circumstance. Nana turns to prostitution after breaking with her lover, failing to secure a spot in the movies, and being evicted from her flat. Watching her struggle to exact some control over a world that is clearly much bigger than her designs is emotionally draining.
As usual with Godard, the cinematography is lush and his cinema eye is constantly roving. Before Nana's first trick, the camera cuts from Karina's panicked eyes, to a bar of soap. It is a relatively simple, yet effective, symbol that defines a relatively simple, yet affecting film.
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