6.5/10
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Une femme coquette (1955)

A young woman is tempted to flirt with a stranger.

Director:

(as Hans Lucas)

Writers:

(story "Le Signe") (as Maupassant), (as Hans Lucas)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Maria Lysandre ... The Woman
Roland Tolmatchoff ... The Man (as Roland Tolma)
Carmen Mirando ... The Woman at the Balcony
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Storyline

Using money earned from selling Opération 'Béton' (1958), Jean-Luc Godard's adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's short story named "Le Signe" (The Signal), was shot on 16mm in Geneva and was believed for decades to be irretrievably lost. While walking back home on a Friday morning, a married young woman notices another woman at her window, offering swift and light smiles at male passersby, and as soon as they locked eyes with her, she made a signal. Intrigued, the woman decides to indulge herself in an innocent but crazy idea, and without second thought, she heads to the nearest bench at Rousseau Park to do just that: throw a smile at the first man she saw. Is this modern coquette really guilty of flirting? Written by Nick Riganas

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Genres:

Short | Comedy

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Release Date:

16 February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Flirtatious Woman  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Godard's first time picking up a camera, his focus as a storyteller was... 'hey, she was asking for it, eh?'
20 February 2017 | by See all my reviews

Though it's not a story that originated with 24 year old Jean-Luc Godard (it came from Guy de Maupassant, who inspired Renoir with Day in the Country, Ophuls with Le Plasir, and even Godard later for Masculine/Feminine), in some ways cinematographically this feels already like a Godard film - it has the distanced wide shots showing the action, like when the girl is trying to run away and the guy gets into the car, or the immediacy of the hand-held as the girl walks along the bridge. And the attention to words is there in full force... so many, many words here.

I think I can try to excuse some of this for the simple fact that this young man hadn't picked up a camera before, so for all intents and purposes this is a student film, and for a guy who is learning the craft and how to do shots, already it's clear he has the chops of at least a competent if not a skilled director (as an editor it has its moments as well).

As for the subject matter it's a little more uneasy to watch today; perhaps in 1955 this was acceptable not just by men but by women too - hey, ladies, if you are going out trying to pick up a guy, no matter how coy you might be, guess what, you'll be asking for it to get followed and, uh, raped it seems(?) - but decades later, the message is pessimistic at best and misogynistic at worst. Because the point of view is squarely from the girl, there's no other character to compare it to, and it feels like a heapload of self-loathing and guilt- shaming - and, again, from male writers who may or may not understand the fuller circumstances of such a thing like this in the real world.

That may be reading into it too much, but can you blame me? I suppose the actress in it is fine, though, again an early hallmark of Godard's coming through, narration is placed over that is an overload, smorgasbord one might say, of words. Also here one can see how he's experimenting with making things so descriptive it might verge on poetry, but even here it's too much. While the scenario might make for a lot of confessional-type language - the woman/Coquette, is writing to her lover about what she did - it's her speaking and describing her thoughts and feelings to such an extreme that I have to wonder if Godard was out for some kind of parody or other.

Either way, this is interesting as far as simply seeing where this iconoclast got started. You do get to see a little bit of cheeky-cleverness in a couple of moments (just the way the girl holds her coat by her face seems like a 60's "Godardian" character move, like what Anna Karina or the girl from Masculin/Feminine might do). But the downside is one of Godard's flaws as a director, almost magnified oddly enough on his first time picking up a camera, which is it being so self-conscious in its coolness. Maybe I just didn't connect with it emotionally like he intended, but either way to look at it, it only follows the director's own later axiom by half: all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun. Nice try, "Hans".


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