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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
A Timeless Work Concerning Commercialism and Urban Inequality (Just Not For the Casual Viewer)
2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (2 or 3 Things I know About Her) is one of Godard's most fluid and complex narratives, and that is saying much considering the very nature of most of Godard's work. On the surface, the "narrative" (if one were to call it that) concerns a group a middle/upper-middle class Parisian women who prostitute themselves in order to buy consumer goods. Based on a newspaper article Godard read, this "narrative" seems like an interesting point for gender politics.
However, "narrative" or gender politics are really not the point of "2 or 3 Things...". First off, "her" is less a person, but a city- Paris. And it is just not Paris, as in the city of romance and art, but De gaulle's radical transformation of Paris from a pre-war city of antiquity to a modern commercial center. The film is framed around extended shots of constructions sites, developing freeways, and cranes for a reason- to show how this ancient city is being radically transformed with or without the benefit of its citizens. In a way, this film is a meditation on a phenomena spreading around the world from the 1990's to the present (and especially the United States)- urban gentrification. In the push to modernize and beautify a city, the powers that be often step on the majority which make up a city- the lower and middle class. Godard's precise comments on urban planning are 40 years ahead of their time. If anything, "2 or 3 Things..." is far more relevant today than in 1967.
Secondly, the film is an agit-prop protest against crass commercialism and how it defaces and devoids the human experience. The 2 or 3 women in the film (Paris included) are so wrapped up in the base drive for material goods that they forget the very principles of humanity- love, caring for one's family, intellectual desire, and compassion. Godard's definition of consumerism robs a society of its metaphysical compassion and leads intellectual and personal freedom into a locked room. In the age of I-Pods and Paris Hilton, Godard's sharp criticism of crass consumerism is amazingly relevant. It is a wonder that the Adbusters/Culture jam movement have not latched onto this film with a passion.
"2 or 3 Things..." also serves as one of the many watermarks of Godard's highly productive and influential 1960's period- blending the emotions of Contempt or Vivre Sa Vie with the chic radicalism of La Chinoise or Week End. Godard was an artist in constant evolution in the 1960's and "2 or 3 Things..." is one of these many evolutionary steps.
Be forewarned, "2 or 3 Things..." is NOT a good starting point for those new to Godard. It is far too meditative, "slow", and didactic for one to get a true sense of Godard's radical style. I strongly recommend Masculine-Feminine, Contempt, Breathless, Band of Outsiders, or Week End as a better starting point for Godard. A newcomer to Godard's style might be forever turned off by the slow pacing of "2 or 3 Things...". However, after digesting a few of this great film maker's works, line up "2 or 3 Things...". A timeless and extremely relevant film.
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