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Numéro deux (1975)

 |  Drama  |  4 November 1976 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 457 users  
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An analysis of the power relations in an ordinary family.


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Title: Numéro deux (1975)

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An analysis of the power relations in an ordinary family.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

4 November 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Number Two  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Jean-Luc Godard says that this film is a remake of Breathless (1960). See more »


Referenced in Cinemania (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Godard will f*** with your head with almost every film he makes, and Number Two is no exception
10 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I almost don't know why I am rating Numero Deux (or Number Two, ho-ho) so high. I think a good lot of it may have to do with sheer audacity, which if nothing else is what impresses me with Godard. For better or worse (sometimes more for the worse, but better if it's in the 60's), Jean-Luc Godard is a director who really does a job f***ing with the audience (or at least with me), and part of it is a certain arrogance on his part, I think, as he is a gifted filmmaker with a sort of mad genius about him at times. Like with several of his 80's films, with Numero deux, he is saying 'I will go even further than I have before, because it's the only way I know how'. In a way he reminds me of George Carlin, only on a different level; Carlin wants to take his audience across whatever line it is that is improper or expectable, and then have the audience be glad that they did it. Godard does this, but not always does he bring the audience with him, which is why he's always remained on the outskirts of the film-world. Number Two is one of those films where he really wants to take people across the 'line' by doing what he calls a 'remake' of Breathless, his first film. I've found this kind of talk from him (which also includes his 'End of Cinema' claim at the end of Week End) a little unbelievable, as he is always experimenting with each film, not just Number Two. At least here, he is successful in not letting one drift too much into boredom.

When I say too much though, let it be known, nothing really 'happens' in this film. It's really an examination by Godard and his first time collaborator Anne-Marie Mieville on a sort of cross examination of "politics and porno" (it's a pretty funny moment when that comes up, by the way). In fact, the first ten minutes or so of the film are the first real hurdle (make no mistake, this is not an easy film) by watching Godard sort of 'testing' out his experiment of using video monitors (which, at the time, must have been a new revolution in the film-making process). He goes off on tangents, sometimes more interesting and with some grounding than in other films, sometimes not at all. In a way it sets up the film as more of a video essay than something of a real motion picture. The bulk of the film then focuses on a family of four, a husband, a wife, and their son and daughter, who seem to be in this apartment all the time, slowly going nuts, growing bored with their sexual organs.

This is where the 'porno' part of the film comes into play, and at times it became a little too disturbing (this would definitely not pass the censors if it was made in America, in any form), as the kids get to practically see their parents in the act so to speak. Godard has a peculiar fascination with such taboo subject matter; all of these scenes, of course, are shown through video monitors, wherein the viewer has to look further into the given space of the frame. Who is more of the voyeur, Godard might be asking. It's hard to find any true 'enjoyment' in many of their scenes, except from complete detachment. There is one very flight-of-fancy type scene where the mother does a dance (in the Godard tradition of course, one shot, one long take, where she starts spewing out communistic one-liners. In fact, this is Godard coming right out of, if not still hip-deep, in his Maoist period, and at times one wonders whether is satirizing some of this, or if he is just a hardcore, Maoist filmmaker who does everything but start waving the red flag on camera.

Like First Name: Carmen, none of the scenes of nudity or overt sexuality are at all sensual, or erotically charged like in a Bertolucci movie. This becomes a sort of intrigue to what might be one of the key points of the film; what happens with our perception of the image, how it gets filtered through, and under such documentary-style circumstances (all actors, per the arrangement, are non-professionals)? The last fifteen minutes of the film are when it starts to lag on, losing some of the strengths that went with the earlier part of the film. But I still couldn't look away, even during a late-night viewing. As another commenter on this film has said, the film is desperate, with Godard trying to 'reach out' to someone with his style at a time that had moved on from the peak of the 'new wave' of French cinema. Damn it all if it isn't a good, intellectual 'trip' seeing some of these images; one scene that I thought was maybe my favorite of the film is when a hand, almost alien-like (the body in silhouette except for the hand) punches keys to flicker up images on the monitor, as a female voice-over guides through almost nothingness.

It would be hard for me to sit through this movie again anytime soon, but at the least it wasn't as pretentious or inexplicably filmed as with some of his later works.

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