IMDb > Oh, Woe Is Me (1993)

Oh, Woe Is Me (1993) More at IMDbPro »Hélas pour moi (original title)

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Release Date:
8 September 1993 (France) See more »
Romance about Simon Donnadieu and his decision to leave his ever-loving wife Rachel. | Full synopsis »
1 nomination See more »
(17 articles)
Jean-Luc Godard’s Late Films: A Primer
 (From SoundOnSight. 24 October 2015, 10:57 PM, PDT)

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 25 Premiere - 'Go Big or Go Home'
 (From Hitfix. 26 September 2014, 7:46 PM, PDT)

A Talk by Caroline Champetier
 (From MUBI. 20 September 2013, 1:30 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Reverie See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Gérard Depardieu ... Simon Donnadieu
Laurence Masliah ... Rachel Donnadieu
Bernard Verley ... Abraham Klimt
Aude Amiot ... Aude Amiel
Roland Blanche ... Le professeur de dessin / Le libraire
Marc Betton ... Le médecin
François Germond ... Le pasteur
Jean-Louis Loca ... Max Mercure
Anny Romand ... La femme du pasteur
Monique Couturier ... La vieille servante
Benjamin Kraatz ... Benjamin
Manon Andersen ... Ondine
Raphaël Potier ... Un élève
Delphine Quentin ... Delphine, l'étudiente
Véronique Varlet ... L'étudiente
Laurence Dubas ... La femme éplorée
Stefan Elbaum ... Le joueur de tennis
Vincent Siegrist ... L'élève de latin
Jérôme Pradon ... Miguel
Jean-Pierre Miquel ... L'autre pasteur
Michel Barras ... Le propriétaire de l'hôtel
Pascale Vachoux ... La propriétaire de l'hôtel
Christina Hernandez ... La serveuse
Thierry Wegmuller
Gilbert Isnard ... Le cantonnier
Sophie Lukasik
Séverine Koller
Monsieur Rolland ... La voix de Dieu
Veronika Beiweis
Laura Cabrera
Lorelei Rautermann
Fabienne Chaudat
Vanessa Bloch
Harry Cleven ... Le Dieu
Yves Galliard
Louis-Do de Lencquesaing ... Ludovic, l'élève
Jean-Louis Caillat ... L'espagnol
Anne-Élise Bottiau ... L'employée vidéo

Directed by
Jean-Luc Godard (uncredited)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Jean-Luc Godard  uncredited

Produced by
Christine Gozlan .... producer
Christine Hutin .... producer
Benoît Rossel .... producer
Cinematography by
Caroline Champetier 
Film Editing by
Jean-Luc Godard (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Anne-Marie Faux 
Costume Design by
Valérie De Buck 
Makeup Department
Thomas Nellen .... makeup department head
Production Management
Anne-Marie Faux .... production manager
Pierre-Alain Schatzmann .... production manager
Claudia Sontheim .... unit manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Natalie Engelstein .... assistant director
Agathe Grau .... script supervisor
Frédéric Jardin .... assistant director
Luc Peter .... second assistant director
Sound Department
Pierre-Alain Besse .... sound
François Musy .... sound
Nathalie Vidal .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Blaise Bauquis .... assistant camera
Guy-Auguste Boléat .... key grip
Laurent Hincelin .... second assistant camera
Julien Hirsch .... first assistant camera
Editorial Department
Philippe Benoît .... color timer
Music Department
Keith Jarrett .... musician: piano, for "24 Prelude and Fugue, op. 87"
Kim Kashkashian .... musician: viola, for "Vom Winde beweint"
Other crew
Louis Grau .... general administration

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Hélas pour moi" - France (original title)
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95 min
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

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Movie Connections:
References Class Action (1991)See more »


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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
Reverie, 11 April 2011
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

I try to be wary of sweeping claims because usually they sweep away too much of details that matter, but here I feel confident in saying Hélas pour moi is perhaps the most difficult, demanding Godard film I've encountered thus far. The dialectic tappestry is perfected here, which Godard would subsequently use for the Histoire(s) films, and it's presented to us in the form of a dreamlike reverie. To disentangle this web the film requires we go deeper than the level it operates, an almost insurmountable task.

Charles Baudelaire mused on the idea of the "flaneur", the "stroller" who walks the city in order to experience it. In the emergent observer-participant dialectic, it is important for the observer to remain detached so that free association, the spontaneous and impromptu, can suggest its own portals of understanding. This dissolution of apparent order by which we're taught to experience the world, opens doors in the mind. Likewise, I believe it is important to experience Godard with a certain detachment, to walk through the film in order to experience it.

The other aspect is the dreamlike nature.

Where we do we go when we sleep? Some will say we go in the mind, where we enact vivid, abstract bits of life. Without making the distinction any more overbearing than it needs to be, I'll say that instead we go back into the body from where, in the silence of sleep, we can hear faint traces of the mind's constant, routine stream of thought. Sleeping, we can hear the mind murmur to itself. This should be the most tangible, profound awakening to the illusionary reality of the mind available to us.

The film is this state of consciousness as existential murmur, where characters tenaciously grapple with ideas of love and death in vivid, abstract bits that begin or end abruptly. In pursuit of these ideas, it's thought that the mind should matter, the greatest folly of the French Renaissance, and which notion the young French artists (dandies, surrealists, Dada, Nouvelle Vague) continuously assailed and challenged.

When I say Helas is a difficult film, is when Godard complicates all this by the presence of strange entities that omnipresently exist outside the frame of that consciousness. These entities are in the narrative but not of it, instead they appear as visitations to that world.

One is a book editor who wanders the movie trying to piece together a crucial moment that happened between two lovers in the past, looking for the "missing pages", first of this affair as though it's a book written somewhere, second of the narrative of the movie itself since now his quest for answers becomes ours and we also want to find out what happened, then on a third level life in general. This quest for answers Godard wisely leaves frustrated, as reflection of the uncertain and peremptory. All these properly remain enigmas, as we know life to be true.

The other is a significantly curious device, where the woman cannot recognize her lover, played by Gerard Depardieu, who then poses as or is occupied by God. In the fantastical, surreal conversations that follow in a veranda overlooking the sea, love is put to the test, purpose in life, all of creation.

Here, more importantly than anywhere else in the film, Godard gives us one of his famously thunderous cuts (like the one in Le Mepris). The woman faces away from him as if to scorn him, the screen pulses with light for a second, then another character, elsewhere, muses to the book editor that "God is a character, like me and you, only forms exist". Perfect!

What I see as a desire for contemplation that begins in Godard's work in films like Prenom Carmen, here for the first time leads to a degree of awareness. Bergman never saw this far in his metaphysical anxiety, Antonioni saw further yet because he escaped that murmur of the mind. This awareness of the world as it is he examined again in JLG/JLG, his self styled portrait, and the several Histoire(s) films. Histoire(s) though ends with a more profound realization, that only when life is lived in full, with all the forces available to our body, only then can life stop questioning itself and accept itself as the true answer.

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