Review of Weekend

Weekend (1967)
the most shockingly anarchic comedy ever made
15 June 2003
Jean-Luc Goddard's film Week End is loaded with his obsessions with outrageous characters, political and philosophical ideas, and so on, and many viewers have claimed this to be a full on political film. From what I could gather after seeing a poor yet manageable copy of this film, I saw that this is possibly his best effort in terms of abrasive, surreal though bravura directing. He leaves the camera on his characters, with their flaws almost shining off them (which serves as an asset in some scenes), and yet most of the time it feels like he's directing a comedy of these events- comedy of errors. Consider the scene where the woman has the monologue in her panties and bra, how she leads up such telling, informatory details to a payoff that gives as a reminder of the Walken scene in Pulp Fiction (though he is the better actor). Or in other times the comedy is in the sense of a Goddard satire of his past work - the traffic set piece(s) gets the viewer to feel in the mood of the car he so piercingly follows, even as it becomes relentlessly obnoxious and tense, and acts like every other driver on the streets of the cities of America.

It's a delirious, one-of-a-kind stretch to the heights of satirical madness. However that, and a moment of argument over a corpse in the passenger seat (he cuts to the faces of the onlookers who happen to find such duologue rather amusing), show by the time Goddard reached this stage in his career he wasn't taking himself and his work 100 % seriously, though that's not to say that the element of the woman's path to guerrilla-hood isn't a serious topic. For his art film die-hards he also uses a peculiar, non-linear style in story-telling- an added advantage for a week-end timepiece. By the time the cannibals come along in the woods (and yes, repetitive drum beat included as the camera continues to glide with a freedom and abandon akin to anarchy) you'll know whether you love it or hate it, or just scratch your head in confusion.

I'm reminded of Fellini (as I was while watching another Goddard film of recent, Contempt) in one aspect of the picture, in terms of how he portrays his women- he can love them, ignore them, belittle them, or even glorify them in the most drastic of measures, but he can't control them. One also wonders if this is how he just makes it for his films, or if in real life the women of his life were really this (how do I put it) out-there. But on repeated viewings, this film reveals itself more and more, and in its very frustrating, uncompromising way, it's a true original. The script occasionally veers off on it's tale of a couple going on a disastrous week-end out for stretches of poetry, discussion, things that don't have much to do with the story, and yet there's a catching, eccentric, melodic aura to these scenes and passages. These kinds of scenes make it perfectly clear that Goddard has created an original work here, one that may put off audience members who "don't get it" or expect total sense in the outcomes. Certainly a movie made for it's time, country of origin, and target group (if there even IS one in the art-house or avant-garde crowd).

To sum up my review let me put it this way - this is the kind of picture that would've heavily influenced The Doors...After seeing over a dozen others, and on repeat viewings, this is now my favorite Godard.
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