A Woman Is a Woman (1961) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
44 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
With Full Breath
kami_k19 October 2004
A Woman is a Woman belongs to the period when Godard was playful, uninhibited and really a wild child of the movies. So when he made a musical, in fact he made a childish and free imitation of a musical that at the same time showed, in an Godardian analytic way, how the Hollywood musicals usually depict life and love. In the film characters love and evade committing to love at the same time. There is music by Legrand and spontaneous looking movements which are aspirations to dance but at the same some oblique realism is at work. As with Godard, fantasy and realism interact in a dialectical way so that both seem indistinguishable after a while.

The trio of Brialy, Belmondo and Karina is great but Karina is obviously unique in that she makes the whole subject of performance seem out of place. She is there playing innocent, dumb, inviting, sad etc. and again at the same time she seems NOT THERE as though her mind is some place else. Her big eyes work and shine all the time but they don't give away the character. There is no argue about Godard's style which after so many years and so many innovations in the language of film has remained fresh and unsurpassed in vitality and an acute understanding of "Films as Games" or rather "Life depicted as a game within a game". However watching A Woman is a Woman after some years I still wonder at the their cinematic child: Acting as a sort of being there and being free to feel the film, breathing the air of movies. The plot is as unimportant as it can be. In its place moments show up, little but infinitely joyful moments of adults looking like teenagers amused and fascinated by the thought of being in a musical comedy. Was Godard the biggest daydreamer of the cinema or what?
34 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Beautiful Performance
freudianlove1019 November 2004
Absolutely beautiful. I loved every minute of this piece. The Color. Anna Karina. The opening scenes. The closing scenes. The concept. Whenever I think of Godard, I think of Anna Karina singing in the cabaret about her beauty. If you consider yourself a fan of Godard, French New Wave, musicals (although coming into seeing this, i was expecting quite a different type of musical, a more American version, which it wasn't) or just film in general, this is a must see. Godard holds a huge influence over todays films, i.e. Wes Anderson's work. I love seeing Anna Karina walking into the coffee shop, past the traffic, from the drab looking outside, ordering coffee, and leaving. I am so happy that Mr. Godard is still making films today, what a gift.
24 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Godard knows what cinema is and this is cinema.
anirak_anna14 December 2002
This movie is often advertised as a musical. It's not. It's Jean-Luc Godard's world, filled with vibrant blues and reds, bogaurd cigarettes, and cinema fantasies, shown through the eyes of Anna Karina. Karina plays a stripper, but unlike the other girls, she dances and sings as if she were in a musical choreographed by Bob Fosse. Raoul Cotard's cinerama camera follows her through Paris as we expiriance her flirtation's with her lover's best friend (played by Jean Paul Belamondo who also costars with Karina in 'Pierette le Fou' and starred in Godard's first film, A bout de scoffule) and argues with her lover about whether they should have a child and how awful the opposite sex is. They love eachother deeply, but can't stand eachother. In my experiance this IS love...or the closest thing humans can get to love. Godard keeps us completley out of the film by constantly reminding us that THIS IS A FILM. Anna Karina winks at the camera, breaks into song, the actors are staged unrealistically. This is what makes Jean-Luc Godard great. No matter how hard he tried to obtain realism in his first film, it was still a film and this is one of Godard's subliminal messages to the audience. Fun, charming, cinematic, and beautiful--a woman is a woman is a fine piece of cinema.
37 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Jean-Luc Godard musical-comedy
lqualls-dchin27 January 2002
This is a Jean-Luc Godard musical-comedy, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, a fact which he himself acknowledged. The wide-screen color cinematography by Raoul Coutard is amazing, and the experiments with color are lovely. Anna Karina is incredibly pretty and rather too self-consciously adorable; Jean-Claude Brialy is suavely understated, and Jean-Paul Belmondo is certainly exuberant. There's a lot to recommend, even if it's far from the most successful of early Godard films.
23 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Godard's first masterpiece; a colourful pastiche of Hollywood film-making and the woes of modern life
ThreeSadTigers16 April 2008
For me, Godard is easily the greatest living filmmaker; the most radical and revolutionary, one of the few director's whose work is so defiant, unique and idiosyncratic that he can go without credit on some of his greatest films - Weekend (1967) and Hélas pour moi (1993) to name just two - and yet, the work is always distinctive, exciting and immediately identifiable. Une femme est une femme (1961) was Godard's first film in colour and also his first in cinema scope, and he uses both of these devises to the fullest of their capabilities. As a result, it is one of the most important films of his career, sowing the seeds of creativity that would give way to later films like Le Mepris (1963), Pierrot le fou (1965) and La Chinoise (1967), and in the process creating a unique and entertaining film that rewards repeated viewings, whilst simultaneously remaining true to the filmmaker's progressive, cinematic intent. Like much of Godard's earlier work, the preoccupations here are almost entirely referential. He's still trying to revolutionise the format somewhat - playing with codes and conventions, simplifying character and narrative to an almost ironic degree and creating the drama from an accumulation of scenes - but there is also something more playful going on alongside a genuine love of cinema that is all too often overshadowed by the cynicism in his more recent work, such as Slow Motion (1980) and the underrated In Praise of Love (2001).

At first glance, the story of Une femme est une femme would seem to be incredibly sweet; a play on relationship difficulties and notions of love, honour and friendship wrapped up in the eternal battle of the sexes in a way that makes for great, light-hearted farce. However, on closer inspection, the giddy production design and typically imaginative use of mise-en-scene seem to be presenting a number of abstractions that draw our eye away from the deeper themes behind the film and the characters that are introduced. Like Jean Pierre Jeunet's Amélie (2001), the colourful format and child-like games being played by both character and filmmaker alike seem to be hiding darker notions that point towards ideas of loneliness, emasculation and dissatisfaction. With this in mind, we must ask ourselves if Godard's playful references and elements of sardonic pastiche are intended to be seen as something chic, or are they instead more in tune with the escapism presented by a film like Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000), in which musical sequences and the air of American melodrama is used as an exit point for the hopelessness of the central character.

With this interpretation it is important to look at the character of Angela, a strip-club artist in a tempestuous relationship with the cold and chauvinistic Emile. Angela delights in playing games with Emile and with the audience as well; acting out her existence as if trapped between the continually juxtaposing worlds of the sitcom and the Hollywood musical as a desperate attempt to derive a simple sense of pleasure from a life that seems entirely joyless. She believes her relationship with Emile can be salvaged by the birth of a child, but when Emile seems unwilling and unaccommodating she turns to his best friend Alfred and begins yet another duplicitous game between the two. This throws something of a shadow over the character of Angela, her name itself creating an ironic juxtaposition as she plays the two men off against each other in an attempt to get what she wants. These issues would appear in subsequent Godard films, from Vivre sa vie (1962) to Slow Motion, with the depiction of women as performers, and indeed, women as prostitutes, seemingly allowing themselves to be put-upon in an attempt to get what they really want. Unsurprisingly, these are serious themes and issues with real dramatic weight that could, in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, have been used to mine a path of social-realist melodrama. Godard is more shrewd than that and presents the film as a carefree farce that is continually undercut by the distancing and distracting use of both audio and visual experimentation.

Despite the darker and more despairing thematic issues presented by the script, the tone of the film and the central performance from Anna Karina as Angela is undoubtedly bubbly, with its vibrant conversations, imaginative use of role playing and blithe musical interludes. However, the film is still reliant on Godard's iconic use of early deconstructive elements, with jarring and dissonant bursts of music, random jump cuts, provocative inter-titles filled with sardonic wit and devious puns, and the appropriation of numerous genre characteristics and stylistic cross-references to offset the story at its most basic level. Regardless of such personal interpretations, the film works just as well if taken at face value, with the boundless energy and imagination of Godard and his crew, the playful references to Truffaut and the relationship between the burgeoning French New Wave and its roots in Hollywood B-pictures, and the fantastic performances from Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Without question, Une femme est une femme could be seen as Godard's first true masterpiece. It is funny, witty, clever and insightful - filled with imaginative vignettes and the infectious sense of joie de vivre that only great film-making can present - whilst beneath the surface we find all manner of hidden depths and avenues of interpretation that remind us of the filmmaker's particular sense of genius. Regardless of your interpretation, the final moments of Une femme est une femme, with that devilish last line, visual pun and wink to the camera is a masterstroke from Godard; one that works within the context of the film as a frothy attempt at jovial farce, whilst simultaneously reinforcing the darker side of Angela's character and the empty life that she leads. As the character herself proclaims halfway through; "I don't know if this is comedy or tragedy... but it is a masterpiece".
26 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
New wave romantic comedy: cute, playful
DeeNine-218 January 2008
Godard is beginning to grow on me. Maybe it's because I'm watching his films from the sixties, made when I was a teenager in France, and the nostalgia appeals to me. Maybe it's because his work seems free and easy, uncontrived, almost amateurish compared to some other famous film makers. Or maybe it's just that I like this particular pretty girl he features.

She is pretty, gangly Anna Karina starring as Angela, an exotic dancer who is madly in love and wants to have a baby. Godard has a lot of fun with her, encouraging her to mug for the camera, getting her to do movements that cause her to trip and look not just gangly and very young like a pre-adolescent, but even clumsy--and then to leave the shots in the film, probably telling her, "This is a comedy. You need to be not just beautiful, but funny, warm, vulnerable." Karina does manage a lot of vulnerability. Her exotic act including her singing is...well, there are usually only a handful of customers in the joint and so her skills are probably appropriately remunerated. Again this is intentional since Godard wants her to be just an ordinary girl without any great talent, someone with whom the girls in the audience can identify. But the irony is that the girl must needs be at least pretty. Karina is more than pretty. She is exquisite with her long shapely limbs and her gorgeous countenance.

One of the compelling nostalgic elements is the way women did their eyes in the sixties: so, so overdone! Although I thought that look was oh so sexy then, today I would like to clean the blue, blue--or is it purple?--eye shadow and the black, black mascara off of Karina's face and see her au naturel! But it is the sixties in Paris--Gay Paree, Paris in the Spring, the City of Light! Well, 1960 to be exact, which really is more like the fifties than the sixties if you know what I mean. Everything is so innocent, Ike still in the American White House, De Gaulle the triumphant hero of France. Algeria and Vietnam completely offstage of course--this is a romantic comedy. The German occupation, the horrific world war and its aftermath are distant memories for Angela and her friends who were only children then. Life is young, the girls are pretty, the boys are cute, prosperity is upon them. It's Godard's Paris. Life is playful. Life is fun. You tease and you have no real worries. The Cold War is of no concern. The 100,000 or so American troops still stationed in France to support the troops in Germany are not seen. But Godard's love affair with the mass American culture is there in little asides and jokes. Emile or Alfred (I forget which) asks Angela what she would like to hear on the jukebox. "Istsy-bitsy bikini," he offers. No. She wants Charles Aznavour. She wants romance and an adult love that leads to marriage and maternity.

Angela's beloved is Emile played with a studied forbearance by an eternally youthful Jean-Claude Brialy. He doesn't want to father a baby, at least not yet. She pouts, she makes faces, she threatens, she burns the roast and drops the eggs, she crosses her arms, and she gives him the silent treatment. It doesn't work. He prefers to read the Worker's Daily. Ah, but will Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo, who seems intent on out boyish-ing Brialy) pull himself away from TV reruns of "Breathless" to do the job? Will she let him? Is Emile really so indifferent as to allow his friend carnal knowledge of his girlfriend? Is this a kind of threesome, a prelude to a menage a trois? Watch for a shot of Jeanne Moreau being asked how Truffaut's film Jules et Jim (1962) which she was working on at the time, is coming along, a kind of cinematic insider jest that Godard liked to include in his films. She gives a one word reply, "Moderato." See this for Anna Karina, and see her also in Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964) in which she looks even more teenager-ish than she does here. She is not a great actress, but she is wondrously directed by Godard who was then her husband.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
14 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A great romantic comedy!
rcraig6215 August 2004
It's always fascinating to watch Godard operate outside of his beloved gangster/noir thing, just to see if he can he do it- or how he'll do it. "A Woman Is A Woman" not only proves he has a flair for romantic comedy, but that he has made quite an extraordinary one. This movie is so charming and funny that it puts the assembly-line Hollywood romantic comedies to shame.

I've never thought Anna Karina was a great actress, but she is a good one, plus has the added benefit of a natural beauty and presence on-camera that really makes a star a star. She is a one-of-a-kind performer, and her lilting, flitting style fits remarkably well with Godard's roving camera in this light-headed, light-hearted story about a young girl working as a stripper who desperately wants to have a baby with her boyfriend Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy).

But the thing that sets the film apart from others in this mostly trite genre is Godard's unique style: the use of on-screen graphics to give insights into the character's motives, the all-too-sly speaking directly to the camera, the stop-start of the film's scoring, the accentuation of moments and dialogue by music which is extremely well-done. I loved the scene where Karina and Brialy, "not speaking", speak to each other with book notes, concluding in "all women to the firing squad". His conception of the Zodiac club is hilarious; it might be the tamest strip club in world history (it looks like a little Italian restaurant). And Godard is an absolute genius at writing small talk that sounds interesting and funny. It is a rare gift, and he doesn't get enough credit for it. In a genre like romantic comedy, where the subject matter is so trivial, to be able to sustain an entire motion picture just on small talk is no small accomplishment.

I highly recommend this picture for fans of good romantic comedy-it might be the best ever of this type. "A Woman Is A Woman" may be lightweight as Godard's films go, but it's exceptional as well. 3 *** out of 4
22 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Playful to the full
Mort-3114 May 2003
Yet Godard made some films which were more intelligent (or included more intelligent people), this one is definitely one of the funniest. Parodizing some aspects of the genre of musical comedy, there is not very much singing and dancing performed on screen, but the dialogues and actions are often quite absurd, or exaggerated, or not quite realistic, just like a song in a musical.

This is why at times it seems that Anna Karina's character is a little dumb, whereas in some dialogues she reminded me of Brigitte Bardot in Le mépris, who is cruel but not at all stupid. Convincing characters are not the most important thing in Une femme est une femme.

Playful camera work, playful use of music. A short and entertaining Godard film (really!), which nevertheless provides masses of material to be interpreted by New Wave lovers.
12 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Perhaps Godard's most accessible film....perhaps...
scottcudmore25 January 2000
Okay, it might not be Godard's most accessible film, but it certainly is his most delightful. And although not without cynicism, it's also probably his least cynical film. It keeps his traditional theme of people never being able to relate to one another, that effective communication is almost impossible, however it does it in such a fun, lighthearted way. It's an homage to the MGM-style musical's of the 40's and 50's, but not in any conventional way. I don't know. All in all I think it's a beautiful, exuberant picture and perhaps my favourite Godard film other than "Contempt", and certainly not as depressingly sad. Or maybe it is.
17 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not Godard's Finest, In My Opinion
gavin694219 November 2015
A French striptease artist (Anna Karina) is desperate to become a mother. When her reluctant boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy) suggests his best friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to impregnate her, feelings become complicated when she accepts.

Godard declared this triangle "an excellent subject for a comedy à la Lubitsch" and, in fact, the Belmondo character is named Alfred Lubitsch, which is no subtle tip of the hat. This is Lubitsch with an eccentric French touch.

Only the third of Godard's films (he made many, many more), it is not really my favorite by a long shot. It has some of the quirkiness of his other films (especially early on when the music seems to be completely unaware of the movie). But it just never really hits home for me.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The trouble with Godard
rick_78 April 2010
Une femme est une femme (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961) conjures that feeling of acute frustration unique to the work of Jean-Luc Godard: as soon as it achieves some kind of clarity or emotional attractiveness it goes off somewhere else. But if that new diversion isn't working, don't worry - there'll be another one along in a minute. Anna Karina is good as the playful, big-eyed protagonist, who loves her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy) but wants a baby so much she might just have one with her ex (Jean-Paul Belmondo, in another winning performance). The film is brightly-coloured, imaginative and littered with movie in-jokes, containing references to the movies of Godard and his Nouvelle Vague contemporary Francois Truffaut and nods to old Hollywood musicals (Gene Kelly and Bob Fosse are namechecked, Belmondo's surname is Lubitsch). And every so often everything clicks into place: like the terrific snippet in which Belmondo is accused of dodging the rent, the barrage of peculiar noises preceding his anticipated bathroom tryst with Karina or the series of visual gags based on manipulated book titles. But the movie frequently unravels, with long stretches that offer nothing but vivid direction and a feeling that Godard should really watch some of those musical comedies he claims to be homaging. The film's incoherence is mistaken by some critics for freewheeling brilliance, which is a pretty stupid mistake to make.
6 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Desconstructing Film
nycritic27 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe it was the extended scene in which both Emile and Angela hold up books that are meant to express their pent-up anger at each other, or maybe it was Godard's staccato yet stagy, posed style in which he tells their story, or maybe it was an essential element that got lost in translation when I viewed UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME, but for all the hoopla that it's received over the years, I can't see it. Sure, it looks gorgeous and Anna Karina is the girliest of them all, prancing, pouting, batting her eyelashes and enunciating in that voice of hers while her character's paper-thin conflicts play themselves out on screen, but where THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG had, despite its experimental nature, a sense of deeply sentimental pathos, UNE FEMME is just shy of irritating. Jean-Luc Godard hasn't created a failure of a movie that has, because of the director's reputation, become a classic of French New Wave and Nouvelle Vague. The thing is, some of the jokes seem only aimed at a milieu who are in on it; there's a feeling that pervades that unless you are or have the type of sensibility to "get" what's being told even when it's not expressed, then you're likely to walk out somehow unfazed by the experience.

At least, two sequences stand out for completely different reasons. The first, a scene where Jean Paul Belmondo, who plays Anna Karina's second love interest, meets Jeanne Moreau and asks her how JULES ET JIM is coming along. She replies: "Moderato." For those in the know, she and he both co-starred in 1960's MODERATO CANTABILE based on the novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras -- she of the brief yet compelling stories.

The second sequence revolves on the musical interlude both Karina and Belmondo share. It's a moment that is not suspenseful per se, but hints at that awkwardness that is present in those "uncomfortable silences" (quoting Mia Wallace from PULP FICTION) where the characters involved want to get closer, but are too shy or uneasy about each other to make the first move. Interspliced in between are pictures of two men who also seem to be separated by space, even though they clearly want to get closer.

At 83 minutes long, UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME feels longer. I may sound like someone who was bored or just didn't like much of it, but truth of the matter is, it's too lightweight and too uneven to a point where I found myself seeing it at a cerebral level. It has inventiveness, the balls to show montages that break the norm of what was until the previous decade the traditional way of filming, but because it's more an experiment than a film proper, I can find myself taking it as such.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
self-indulgent and annoying fare from Godard
MartinHafer7 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
OVERRATED "ART FILM" ALERT: The following film is adored by sophisticated and "with it" film fans. The fact that the average person may find the whole thing unfunny and bland is due to their just not being smart enough to understand and appreciate this masterpiece.

First, note that I have only seen two films by Godard that I have liked. The other 6 or 8 films I have seen I really despised. So, with a score of 2, this isn't the worst film of his I have seen. It is only annoying and trite--a piece of fluff that is barely watchable. SO, compared to some of his other works, such as Prenom: Carmen, Alphaville and Pierrot le Fou, this isn't that bad a film.

What, specifically, did I dislike about THIS film? Well, the dialog is almost like someone asked a person with a brain injury to write it. Bits and pieces are cute--some, even, a little brilliant (such as when Balmondo says he wants to stay home and watch the film BREATHLESS on TV--that's a cute homage to this other film by Godard). But, other parts never go anywhere or sound like they are being spoken by people from another planet--they sound completely unrealistic and stupid. It's funny, because another French film from the same era with unrealistic dialog is, perhaps, my favorite French film (THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG)--because, unlike A WOMAN IS A WOMAN, it had heart and you really cared about the characters. The characters in this film just seemed like jerks (Balmondo stiffing the guy he owed money, his friend's selfishness and ambivalence towards his girlfriend, etc.). After a while, I just wanted them all to stop talking so much and hopefully go away!

It's weird, though. MANY consider Godard to be a great director and his bizarre and often non-sensical films are adored by many critics and he has a very devoted following--this is obvious by the high scores most of his films get on IMDb. HOWEVER, at the same time, this is probably because the average viewer would never watch his films and would rarely watch more than one (since they aren't gluttons for punishment). However, I am truly an odd-ball because I keep watching them again and again in a futile attempt to understand why they are so loved. Dumb plots, childish dialog and choppy direction are all I see.

If you still want to see a French New Wave film but find Godard's too weird and self-indulgent, try the films of Truffaut. They are generally much better grounded in reality and are much more coherent.
22 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't Go!
JohnHowardReid17 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Two or three very good jokes (the scene in which Belmondo is accosted by a creditor and they end up hurling insults at each other as they cross the road in different directions, and the sequence in which so many people bludge a light off Belmondo's cigarette, he ends up with an unsmokable stub) and a very promising opening give little indication of the seemingly endless dreariness to come when Jean-Claude Brialy cycles on to the scene and the characters settle down to a boring array of routine recriminations in the one dreary set. It looks like the producer was unable to afford only two indoor sets. Admittedly, the director has tried to circumvent the shortage with a bit of location work, but this is neither skillfully chosen nor cleverly employed. Worse still, the obviously hand-held camera wobbles to an incredible degree. No doubt, a lot of this was done deliberately in order to disguise the ineptness of the direction and the lack of francs in the producer's pocket. But there was really no need for this display of deliberate ineptitude. The rest of the movie in itself provides evidence enough. And to make matters worse, Anna Karina acts like a wet rag, nothing like the delightfully animated personality she unveiled in "She'll Have To Go".
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Une bore est une bore
Neal4 May 2000
Not a musical, not a comedy, hardly a tribute to Hollywood movies -- not much of anything, really. I've seen Brigitte Bardot sex farces of the same period that remain fresher, edgier, even more cinematically inventive than this. Aside from "Breathless", isn't it time to admit Godard is among the world's most overrated auteurs? That more than Eric Rohmer or Joseph L Mankiewicz his films are mainly people talking, and the talk is none too scintillating? Wasn't his acclaim more a product of political fashion than artistic achievement? Is formal experimentation such a great virtue when it seems intended less to illuminate than to confound and alienate? Could the sentimental "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" actually be a far more more daring and radical (not to mention entertaining) formal experiment? The shabby-looking Fox Lorber DVD (with pale optically-printed subtitles) doesn't help matters at all.
24 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
my ears hurt
g61268-18 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Plot summary: Anna Karina sings and strips and wants a child. Her boyfriend Jean-Claude Brialy doesn't. Their friend Jean-Paul Belmondo is willing to impregnate Anna, and so Jean-Claude Brialy changes his mind and decides to do the job. The end.

Review: After three tries, I simply cannot watch this whole movie. The musical outbursts are so frequent, meaningless and LOUD, I got tired of taking my headphones off and putting them back on every few seconds.

And as another review said: This isn't a comedy, it's not a musical, it's not a drama, it's . . . well, it's kind of nothing. A very loud nothing.
9 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Three ill-spent good players
valadas28 May 2015
I am no fan of Godard and his movies indeed. This one is again a succession of meaningless scenes and dialogues maybe even half absurd and nonsensical. The plot theme looks like to be the fact that a woman wants to have a baby with his boyfriend but he doesn't. Then she keeps moving between him and their friend Alfred who is supposedly in love with her, threatening(!?) to have the baby with him. This is a too simple screen-play to fill a movie and what we see is that succession of endless foolish scenes and conversations around who is in love with whom or not. I think Godard didn't intend to make a drama or a tragedy but if this is a comedy it is definitively not funny. A real bore indeed like most of the other Godard's movies I have seen till now. And I pity such good players like Brialy, Belmondo and Anna Karina (who into the bargain seems is beginning her career) for being so ill-spent in this movie.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A good, not great, early Godard- a film with earnest, sweet qualities in youth
Quinoa198414 November 2004
A Woman is a Woman was described by Godard as his "first real movie". While Breathless to him may have seemed like a ill-born experiment (he said of it that it didn't turn out like he expected), this film displays his skills as a filmmaker that would later bloom out with My Life to Live, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, and Alphaville. This may not be as good as those, and perhaps it shows Godard, like with Fellini, as an artist who would evolve with the more experience with the techniques and actors.

As it is, however, this film is, much of the time, a jubilant, tongue-in-cheek "musical-comedy-tragedy" about a stripper (Anna Karina, looking and acting as she usually does- gorgeously) who has that feeling kicking in to pound out a tot. His boyfriend Emile (Brialy) is reluctant, and thinks it's stupid to rush into it. Their mutual friend Alfred Lubitch, ho-ho, (played by Belmondo in a performance that makes me want to look back to see if he was so bad as I though it Breathless) would be happy to oblige, if he could find a connection of love somewhere. This story, much like with the story of three friends planning to rob a house in Band of Outsiders, is just the beat the actors and the directors sing and dance to. Meanwhile, the film takes of its own life-force as the filmmaker takes on a kind of criticism on the genres he's participating in, loading it with in-jokes.

Sometimes the in-jokes can be a little irksome, as can be the actors portrayals in spots. There is so much irony, so much fun, so much delight in being able to make such a widescreen piece like this that they sometimes forget what it is they're doing. Perhaps I have not seen enough of, or at least comparable to, the kinds of 50's musical-comedies that Godard must have eaten up like gummy bears. But it is clear to me that he, along with his actors Karina, Brialy, Belmondo, relish in their youth in this film without completely over-doing it. The literary/movie references are funny in most spots, the music by Michael Legrand is used by Godard with a touch of genius on both ends. And just when you think, like I did the first time I watched Breathless, that it might get surprisingly boring, it bounces back to get the viewer's attention with some unusual joke or song or element to catch you off guard. Any way you look at it, A Woman is a Woman is an essential piece of the French new-wave oeuvre, even if for me it was imperfect. B+
7 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
vincent_brems27 April 2004
Just some short comment to prevent people from believing they are the

only one to consider this "master piece" as an awfull example of

pretentious cinema. I had never seen any film from Goddard. I have

read this film is not so pretentious as his other ones. O my God!

How pretentious must they be!

I smiled during the first ten seconds. I though I was seeing a bad

copy when I heard the sound. Aznavour's song cutted at the wrong

place. You are not able to hear dialogs correctly because of the loud

music. You have to watch the actors making utterly nonsense things.

There are films where this kind of things is funny (look at Monty

Python's Holly Grail) but here the suject is serious and you feel all

the time Goddard is intending to explain you fundamental things with

respect to the relationship between men and women. This film is

neither funny nor serious. It is my opinion it is just stupid and

pretentious. I had to force myself staying in the theater during more

than the half of the film. Incredible!
17 out of 48 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Cute musical comedy where Godard shifts gears from previous work and offers some fresh innovations
crculver16 February 2015
Jean-Luc Godard's first two films (À bout de soufflé and Le petit soldat) were thrillers that drew inspiration from American noir, but UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME (A Woman is a Woman, 1961) shifts gears drastically to a riff on American musical comedies, with the characters occasionally singing and dancing, and the camera jumping between realistic depictions and these musical interludes. But as one of the seminal figures of the French New Wave with its desire to shake up conventions, Godard added some elements of his own. As the film opens, the soundtrack keeps cutting abruptly in and out, an aural equivalent of the unsettling jump cuts with which he started his career. There are allusions to his earlier films and to his New Wave peers, and just a touch of sarcastic allusions to French political tensions.

The plot is fairly simple: cabaret dancer Angela (Anna Karina), who is clearly not looking to buck any traditional sex roles in an age of dawning feminism, wants a baby. Unable to get it from her partner Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy), she gradually welcomes the advances of Émile's best friend Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). The way in which this triangle ultimately works out is a little surprising considering that it was made in 1961. The most appropriate adjective overall for this film is "cute". The characters spend a lot of time bickering, but always with witty ripostes. Karina here is not yet the great actress of later roles, and Godard uses her instead as essentially a Barbie doll (nice to look at, not much there), but it works well enough for this particular story. The film was shot with no fixed script, and why it's not a free-for-all, there are clearly improvisational elements here that only add to the film's charm, such as the characters' encounters with everyday Parisians in street scenes.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What a Woman Wants...,
Galina_movie_fan30 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Une femme est une femme" (1961) is the second Goddard's film – his dissection of a traditional Musical and Comedy. It may seem silly and naïve at times but it is a funniest and most enjoyable of his films that I've seen so far. A pretty stripper Angela (Anna Karina) wants a child. She decided to become a respectable bourgeois mother and wife but her dear husband Emil (Jean - Claude Briali) is categorically against her decision. He loves his wife but he loves his freedom even more, and the child means the end of freedom. Angela turns for help to Emil's friend, Alfred (Jean - Paul Belmondo). He is ready to do anything for Angela because he's been deeply and desperately in love with her ...But a woman is a woman and blessed is he who truly knows what she wants.

3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Movie Is a Movie
Benedict_Cumberbatch11 June 2008
Only a few played with film the way Godard did. "A Woman Is a Woman", his first film in color, is a "musical-comedy" about Angela (the beautiful, underrated Anna Karina, Godard's then wife/muse, in perhaps her most iconic role), an exotic dancer who wants to have a baby. As her boyfriend, Émile Récamier (the late Jean-Claude Brialy) doesn't like the idea, she goes after his friend Alfred Lubitsch (Jean-Paul Belmondo). However, Angela's desire is just a pretext for Godard to explore his visual, intellectual, musical and, of course, cinematic games (in one scene, Belmondo meets Jeanne Moreau at a café and asks "How's 'Jules & Jim" coming along?") with this adorably inventive, amusing and sexy ride. One of his most accessible films, "A Woman Is a Woman" is a good example of why Godard was such a revolutionary, and a great introduction to his filmography. Oh, and to hear Karina singing "Chanson d'Angela" and Charles Aznavour's "Tu t'laisses Aller" is a slice of movie heaven. 10/10.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Godard is Godard!!!!!!
artihcus0223 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
'I don't know if it's a comedy or a tragedy. But it's a masterpiece!'

When the character makes this statement, we sit back and wonder...how narcissistic was Godard when he made this gem of a film.

'A Woman in a Woman' was Godard's first colour film, the second film starring his then wife Anna Karina(though the first released) and outside of 'Band of Outsiders' it's probably his most light hearted, most carefree of all his films.

Godard called this film a 'neo-realist musical'. This moniker is laughable and was probably meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Nothing in 'A Woman is a Woman' has anything to do with either Neo-Realism or Musicals for that matter. There are no songs and the music in most cases is used for stylistic effects that often startle rather than enchant(as most music is used for). Outside of numerous clever references to musicals and one 'number' sang without music, there is little music in this film.

Godard rarely used plots in his films. Often it seems like he just took his cast and crew on location and began shooting whatever was there in his mind and later cut and edited the film at his whim. this film follows a character called Angela(Anna Karina) a stripper living near the Champs Elysses district who wants a baby with her husband Emile Recamier(Jean-Claude Brialy), a Communist intellectual who refuses to father her child or marry her. Upon her husband's refusal, she turns to other men to impregnate her and her former boyfriend Alfred Lubitsch(Jean-Paul Belmondo) is more than willing to step forward and 'do the deed'.

There's probably a million porn films with a plot as identical as this film. Yet like he did in 'Contempt', Godard avoids nudity and titillation as much as possible and when he does show it, it's de-eroticized and almost comedic in its presentation. The film is just plain funny with a million film references to absorb and several of them just laugh-out-loud and then there are sight gags that dazzle you. Like a couple who're always kissing underneath the stairs no matter what day.

Then there are moments of self-reference that just leave you laughing your head off. Like Alfred insisting on getting home soon because 'Breathless' is on TV. A film directed by none other than JLG, starring JPB who also plays Alfred. Then Jeanne Moreau conversing with Alfred and informing him how her upcoming film is coming along. The film was released the following year was also about a love triangle and was also a seminal New Wave film(anyone who doesn't know this should be shot for his stupidity and shot again for good measure). And then he references other seminal films of the New Wave like Jacques Demy's 'Lola' and Truffaut's 'Shoot the Piano Player'. Godard wasn't the first to use the fine art of self-reference. Chabrol hilariously advertised the book on Hitchcock he had written with Eric Rohmer in one of his earliest films.

Raoul Coutard began his work on colour with Godard in this film and became an indisputable artist among cinematographers for his later work with Godard, especially 'Contempt', the use of colour is low-key in this film though perfect in composition and design.
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lighter than a Soufflé
RARubin20 September 2005
Godard is prolific with Parisian stories about beautiful young women; ah, Anna Karina at least, his fetching real life babe. The French New Wave whips by breathlessly, er, make that Breathless, but usually in black and white. A Woman is a Woman is a surprising Matisse splash of color. I was never sure what Karina's real hair color was, but in this one, she is auburn. Breathless, a salute to Humphrey Bogart if Bogey was a Parisian hood, made Godard famous. Then there was One Life to Live where Karina learns the prostitute trade. Somewhere in that period, he made another hood film, Band of Outsiders. All these films have the Godard touch, actors talking to the film audience directly, set shots of the back of actor's heads, strange musical interludes, stranger screen scores, or nonsensical takes on locals and locales. Always the charming Karina mesmerizes the viewer, making up for flimsy, farcical plots with couchette charm.

Woman is not Godard's best, but it is sexy with the strippers as your average working girls and the voyeuristic men, joyless and peculiar. The sudden jerkiness of the film score, sarcasm directed at Hollywood melodramas I'm sure, the jerky dancing and strutting in front of a mirror by Karina, the laughable sex farce, a ménage, is lighter than a soufflé.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pretentious and pathetic
sfdphd16 October 2014
Godard succeeded in making a film that is both pretentious and pathetic. It's almost a parody of itself. Full of cutesy absurd songs and dances, I was glad that I could see this on DVD and fast forward through the worst of it.

I cannot think of anything that redeemed this film. The woman is an airhead who just wants to have a baby. As a striptease dancer, she seemed to have no knowledge of the responsibilities of motherhood and no awareness that motherhood would change her life. This is the kind of woman who thinks she's an adult just because she can have a child. She is a baby herself and likely to be a terrible mother.

The men in the film are all idiots as well. The best thing I can say about this film is that perhaps Godard is trying to show the worst of humanity in hopes that pretentious people will recognize themselves and wise up. But I doubt that was his intention. The film seems to take itself seriously as an alternative avant-garde creation.

I have enjoyed Godard films such as Alphaville, Breathless, Contempt, and Weekend. But this one was lousy...
4 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed