In this film, 'Her' refers to both Paris, the character of Juliette Janson and the actress playing her, Marina Vlady. The film is a kind of dramatised documentary, illustrating and ... See full summary »
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In this film, 'Her' refers to both Paris, the character of Juliette Janson and the actress playing her, Marina Vlady. The film is a kind of dramatised documentary, illustrating and exaggerating the emotionless lives of characters in the new Paris of the 60s, where commercialism mocks families getting by on small incomes, where prostitution is a moneyspinning option, and where people are coldly resigned and immune to the human nightmares of Vietnam, and impending Atomic war. Written by
It's strange to see a work by a filmmaker that is a lesser one, but made during his prime. It's like watching a Godard that speaks to his future films- the much lesser ones- while still holding onto the quality of his work at the time. It came after Masculin/Feminine, a very good work, made during Made in USA (unseen by me) and before Week End, possibly Godard's quintessential attack/satire on culture and film-making. With 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, we get a character who you might think at first is like the Anna Karina character in My Life to Live. She seems to sell herself for sex, but also just lives her life the way she wants it to. But it's really sort of three different strands going on concurrently- there's a pretty coherent look at a mother and wife, Juliette (Marina Vlady, often as dead-pan as Godard can get her to be), who sometimes takes cares of her kids, sometimes just goes out to shop and socialize, and sometimes has absolutely passionless sex for money. The second strand almost comes as being like a pseudo-documentary- or a satire on one perhaps- where Godard has his ladies, Juliette and several others throughout, who break the '4th wall' and talk right to the camera about their own state of mind and being and such. The third strand has Godard himself, in a perpetual whispering tone (to get our attention, of course) about the usual socio-political-philosophical-moral-cinematic-why-is-the-sky-blue narration that accompanies many a Godard film.
And all of this, of course, with some of the most breathtaking cinematography I've seen in any of his work- there are close-ups that, as repetitious as they might've been, really did work. Like with the coffee- we see the coffee and the bubbles, and the colors swirling, while the narration keeps on going. There's even a very self-conscious moment where the camera blurs, the narration mentions blurred perspective, then when things come into 'focus' on both ends. In fact, this is not only one of the most self-conscious of all of Godard's work, but one of the most self-conscious films I might have ever seen. Not that this is an immediate negative, and in this framework Godard's intentions, aside from giving a good kick in the nuts to conventions and what the usual even means in typical words and descriptions of 'things' much less with cinema. There's almost a sense of consciousness expansion he's after in this self-consciousness too, which is par for the course for a Godard film. And it's also loaded to the gills with bright primary colors (this was continued into Week End, though with that in much greater, striking effect), and product placements galore; it always gives one a grin to see his great love/hate relationship with items from mass marketing and produce. And, of course, those title cards.
But what ends up lacking from the film for me, and why I would only consider it a good Godard film as opposed to a masterpiece, is that I get a lot more fulfillment watching Godard's work when he just loses all abandon of common plot-sense, and just makes almost an video essay with plenty of semantics, a loose story, and an eye for locations and people and scenery and products and all sorts of things that show him being instinctively good with the camera...BUT, that it's also entertaining. It's not that 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her isn't never quite interesting, but the fulfillment I got out of it was more of being so familiar with his work that I could get a kick out of things I could already expect in the changes of form and moments of contemplative narration, not really out of any emotional connection though to anything with anyone in the film. Juliette, unlike Karina's Nana (who, by the way, as a tongue-in-cheek in-joke appears in a pop-art style photo on a wall in one scene right from that movie), is at least 70% of the time not really a character in the usual sense: if anything she's more of a mouthpiece, a kind of figure for Godard to put forward his ideas of feminist/radical thinking, done in a manner of voice and inflection that is always the same, rarely shifting. Maybe that's part of the point, and by the end we may know more than two or three things- especially about what she's thinking and attitudes on gender and the whys and why nots of just living and existence- but emotions are almost null & void in this world.
In the meantime, as Godard maybe knows he doesn't have enough of a story with her 'real' character, when not talking to the camera, as a wife and mother, he shifts attention at times to random moments with other women, like one who talks to the camera about her banal existence ("I walk, climb, see a movie twice a month, etc"), or with a sort of touchy sexual discussion in a bar. The focus actually is never too grounded for Godard, which is partly what I mean about this film hinting at the descent his films would go to in the 80s and 90s (at least from my point of view). It's not JUST about women, it's almost about everything- drugs, culture, TV, politics, war (Vietnam especially, quite the topical philanthropic satirist he was), automobiles (a funny bit happens with a red car too), literature, morality, and all that and a bag of 60's-era Godard chips. It's worth checking out, I suppose, especially in widescreen, but not as something to see right away if getting into the director's work- I think if I had seen this as my third or fourth Godard film I might've disliked it even more. As apart of a stretch of films, I respect it and am involved, but compared to the others it's not as successful in terms of it really connecting more than it does. B+
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