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Ferdinand Griffon is married with his wealthy Italian wife and has been recently fired from the television station where he worked. His wife forces him to go to a party in the house of her influential father that wants to introduce Ferdinand to a potential employer. Her brother brings the babysitter Marianne Renoir to take care of their children. Ferdinand feels bored in the bourgeois party and borrows his brother-in-law's car to return home. He meets Marianne, who was his lover five years ago and insists on calling him Pierrot, and offers to take her home. However, he spends the night with her and finds that she is involved in smuggling weapons. When Marianne is chased by terrorists, they decide to travel to the beach without any money, leaving Paris and his family behind in a crazy journey to nowhere. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At the end of Godard's "Band of Outsiders" (1964), it's promised that the next film will be the further adventures of Franz and Odile in South America, in Cinemascope and color. Well, maybe they didn't get as far as South America, but "Pierrot le Fou" begins with Anna Karina dressed in her school girl outfit (with matching braided buns) from "Band of Outsiders": this film gets as far as the Riviera, but it is in Cinemascope and color, as Ferdinand and Marianne try to escape from the trappings of the bourgeoise world (as exemplified by the cocktail party, in which Ferdinand meets the American director Samuel Fuller, who tells him "What is Cinema?"). For Godard, "Pierrot le Fou" represented an important milestone in his career: in it, he would document the end of his relationship with Anna Karina. It is the most agonizingly romantic of his films: there are constant reminders as the narration insists on the ultimate mystery, the inability of one person to know another (there is the moment when Anna Karina is seen in close-up, as the narrator wonders when she says it's a nice day, does she really mean it's a nice day?), and the desolation of romantic desire.
Yet the brilliant color, the rapid rhythms, even the song-and-dance numbers (there are three) color the unhappiness, making this a vibrant tragicomedy. The film veers between exuberance and exhaustion, yet for all its free-wheeling formal invention, this is one of Godard's most emotionally direct films, a piercing lament on the perils of love.
(Godard would make two more films with Karina, the short "Anticipation", and "Made in USA", both films far more "formal" and less emotionally engaged; the end of the Godard-Karina marriage, the subtext of "Pierrot le Fou", would also inspire Jacques Rivette's "L'Amour Fou".)
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