First Name: Carmen (1983) Poster

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Excellent Godard of 1980's
bob99816 February 2004
Here are the bare bones of the story: Carmen wants to make a film with her friends, but has no money. The gang tries to stage an armed bank robbery, but runs into fierce opposition from Joseph, a guard. Carmen and Joseph flee together to the coast, where they stay in her Uncle Jean's apartment. Jean (Godard himself) is making a film set in a luxury hotel, but this is just a pretext for a kidnapping attempt on a businessman. From here on, the plot follows the Bizet opera beloved of so many of us.

It's fun to watch Godard working out styles and themes again, while acting outrageously in the hospital scene. Maruschka Detmers looks gorgeous, and Jacques Bonnaffe is suitably ardent and foolish. The bank robbery is worthy of Woody Allen in his best days.

Footnote 2014: I see that I neglected to mention the extraordinary camera work in the hotel sequences. How Coutard managed to get that level of intimacy and richness of colour with the light levels so low near sunset is amazing. Detmers manages to cope with Godard's need to sexualize the story very well--she is excellent.
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Original movie making
jossil687 March 2009
I found it very interesting to see a new, different movie made out of an old story (Carmen). It is not easy to follow Godard and hence it may take several views of the films to understand all details including plot, dialogues and philosophical remarks and the result is it makes you reflect about it and makes you become an actively involved viewer. A Godard movie is like modern art introducing new standards in story telling, and so for someone used to and expecting a scheme F Hollywood entertainment movie it is probably a frustrating experience. I found the actors did a good job. I think the nakedness of the lead actress relates to the kind of relationship she (Carmen) has with her lover, which is based on a strong sexual, magnetic and obsessive attraction. I found the cinematographic/photographic work of the movie very beautiful and the music fits nicely in.
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Why Does Cinema Exist?
Krustallos25 March 2004
I've seen this once, which isn't really enough, but I found it the most sheerly enjoyable of Godard's later works.

A kaleidescopic updating and deconstruction of the "Carmen" story, it's "Carmen", it's "Last Tango in Paris", it's a girl and a gun, it's the Keystone Kops, it gives us Godard as randy old pervert and it's informed throughout by Beethoven's beautiful late string quartets, which this film made me start listening to. It's also screamingly funny.

I will admit to understanding about a tenth of this and Godard's later work is so personal that it's probably futile to hope that everything will become clear, but I shall see this again as soon as I get the chance. Hal Hartley (and Tarantino) eat your heart out....
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tieman6419 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"The human being under the skin is, for all lovers, a horror and unthinkable, a blasphemy against love." - Nietzsche

Jean-Luc Godard's "First Name: Carmen" opens with lines of cars and trains travelling in opposite directions. We then cut to roiling waves. "It's in me, in you, like terrible waves," someone says, later identified as Claire (Myriem Roussel), one of a string quartet busy rehearsing Beethoven. We then cut to a mental hospital. Here rests Godard, who plays himself within the film. Broke and so feigning illness for board and bed, he sits before a typewriter. The lights dim.

What follows is a fantasy spun by the now sleeping Godard. Here he imagines the movie he'd have made with his niece, a girl whom he "always adored" and whom he "always wanted to make a film with". His niece's name is Carmen (Maruschka Detmers), and so he casts her in a stylised version of Georges Bizet's "Carmen", a nineteenth-century opera. "Should I ask why you're here?" Carmen asks, when she's conjured before Godard. "Sure," he self-reflexively replies, "it'll provide some dialogue."

Within this film within a film, Carmen plays a criminal who robs banks, falls in love with a soldier (Joseph) and stages a movie production as cover for yet another heist. Significantly, she films this fake movie with "Godard's new camera" which we learn "makes music". "Name's" aesthetic itself attempts to mimic the ebbs, flows and logic of Opera, dance and classical music. Carmen's tale is also framed by Claire's music recitals, with the moods and rhythms of the former influencing the latter, and vice versa. "Be mysterious!", "Develop tragedy!", "Improvise!" Claire's associates say, orders which Carmen herself obeys.

Still, the film's central character remains the oft off-screen Godard. Throughout the film, Carmen becomes emblematic of a fantasy image which he repeatedly creates and yearns for. She's "the first name": the fantasy that exists before actual identity. As men approach, Carmen recedes, as they move close, she disappears, a push-pull dynamic encapsulated by Godard's cutaways to turbulent ocean waves. These waves appear throughout the film, crashing and churning like we imagine the on-screen Godard tosses and turns in his own bed.

Significantly, it is the clichés and conventions of cinema which prevent Carmen and Joseph being together. The closer he gets, the quicker she runs off on some ridiculous adventure. She remains in the realm of cinema, desire, love and longing, he in the realm of flesh and disappointment. Throughout the film, suffering and joy ritualistically dance, but power itself is continuously constructed and deconstructed; Carmen's never just a fetish object upon which Joseph, or the spectator, exerts power. In her own way, she asserts her own control, her own tidal forces.

Unable to possess her, Joseph finally explodes into rage. He masturbates frantically over her image and then pathetically collapses. Desires cannot be satiated, only transferred. Epitomizing this is the film's obsession with "holes", an allusion to a very male drive to meet and go beyond desire; to transcend Lack, eradicate desire and penetrate into a "beyond". "Now I know why jail is called a hole," the soldier says, alluding to female orifices (vagina, anus etc), but also the trap of all yearning. The film itself begins with Godard wishing to "put his finger in a nurse's anus for 33 seconds" and ends with a "hole in Godard's jacket being sewn" by the very same nurse. "That's a long 33 seconds," he then quips, referring to the film he's trapped in, a feature length orgasm in which longings are patched up and desires temporarily postponed.

For Godard, cinema, directors and men in general, are hopelessly fetishistic, always aroused by the mysteries of the female body. Their gaze is itself helplessly dependent, masochistic, misogynistic, exploitative, unashamedly masculine but ultimately impotent. There is nothing except desire for desire.

But if Carmen exists in a world defined by men, trapped in a game of repetition and return, Claire exists in another realm. Spiritual, contemplative and sombre, she's detached from the carnal world of Carmen. We also learn that she too was once in love with Joseph, a man who eventually abandoned her. If Carmen's tale presents the male ego's experience of love, loss and impossibility, Claire represents the female flip-side. She's the victim of Godard's camera, conjured up and then discarded, left to contemplate the cruel eyes which regard her as inadequate.

"Carmen" is almost impenetrably symbolic. Trains and ships travel in opposite directions, signalling the widening gaps between our characters, and only when traffic streams merge do our guys and girls come together. Elsewhere Joseph caresses a TV, hoping to penetrate its screen and get at the fantasies within. This recalls what Rene Girard termed "memetic desire"; far from being autonomous, human desires are borrowed from other people and places. The film's aesthetic also alludes to Godard's previous films, alternating between pulpy crime clichés and political tracts. Other sequences feature Godard in a little symbolic tale. Here he's a failed director who has "lost everyone's money" and who now serves as a doormat for hip upstarts who use him to steal cash from unsuspecting audiences (with crime film clichés, no less). This refers to both Godard's return to feature film-making, and his refusal to bow to public and financial pressures.

"Carmen" was the second film in Godard's "body quartet" ("Slow Motion", "Passion", "Carmen", "Hail Mary", the latter also with a Joseph). It ends with the words "sunrise"; morning comes and the cranky dreamer awakes.

7/10 – Multiple viewings required. See Antonioni's "Beyond The Clouds" for this material done better.
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One of the best Godard films
Quinoa198426 June 2004
First Name: Carmen is an enthralling hybrid for director/actor Jean-Luc Godard and screenwriter (and frequent collaborator) Anne-Marie Mieville. After almost a decade of weird, philosophical experimentation, they took on the opera of Carmen (the original story of which, unfortunately, I am not very knowledgeable of) and deconstructed it with some amusing self-awareness ("Uncle" Jean-Luc Godard at the start of the film is in a hospital of sorts, over-staying his welcome), while going back to Godard's olden days of movies with lovers on the run.

This time the lovers meet by accident and chance- Carmen X (the alluring and dangerous Maruschka Detmers in a controlled, if downtrodden debut acting role) asks of her uncle Jean if she can use his beach-side house to make a film with some friends. He agrees, though not knowing she's apart of a terrorist gang that robs a bank. During the robbery she has a shoot-out, and kiss, with Joseph (Jacques Bonnaffe, whose performance shifts from bizarre to intense and then believable) the security guard. They hide out for a little while, becoming more involved, while Carmen knows at the same time his uncle prepares to make his comeback film after being washed up for so long, her terrorist friends are planning another scheme.

The acting ranges from forceful to observant, from a little boring to a little ridiculous, but like in Godard's 60's films the actors contribute to Godard's documentary style feel (of which he calls a documentary which is 'fictional'). And Godard is able to get a few laughs during his few scenes on camera, even as he spouts a few quotes that make a viewer dig in their minds for a meaning. Accompanied with evocative and sweet late-night shots of cars and a train in Paris, are shots of the ocean, which contributes as the film's main flaw for me (I kept on saying, yeah the sea looks nice, but what's the point he's getting at here- is it the characters or himself that likes staring at the sea?).

Nevertheless, the compositions are no less than on par with what to be expected from Godard (via the great Raoul Coutard and Jean-Bernard Menoud), and the emotionally charged musical selections from Beethoven and Bizet to Tom Waits are pulled off as a successful, often emotional experiment as the footage of the string musicians are inserted several times. Overall, 'Carmen', however little or much it follows it's source, is a fine piece of art-type of cinema, where romanticism and cynical humor plays as much of a role as the story.
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Godard's GOAT. The New Wave as Intertext! (Watch His Early Films, at least one documentary FIRST)
ansar-m622 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Prologue: From 1967 and 1979 Godard abandon his new wave roots, and committed himself to producing political films. Of which made certain foreign critics distance themselves from Godard, leaving him rarely discussed and ignored for a decade. This seems to make his post new wave work not canon, Pierrot Le Fou was apparently his last film. But the 80s saw a return to Godard's new wave esque subject matter, rewarding his frequent viewers with intertextuality, and taking over the narrative surrounding his legacy up to that point.

In an 1980 interview, televised on the American television talk show: the Dick Cavett show; Godard promotes the first of his post-new wave films "Slow Motion". Cavett begins by asking honestly and softly, "The word comeback has been used to describe this film (Slow Motion), does that word "comeback" offend you in anyway?". Godard tenderly responds with, "In a sense because.. i never went away. Maybe I was pushed away, and to me, i'd rather say that this the reverse of "comeback", a.. what would you say, a come-fourth or go-forth..", with Cavett reiterating, "a continuation".

Which is an interesting contextually when viewing First Name: Carmen. Actually to view any of Godard's films requires some understanding of context, as Godard is actually neither mysterious nor cryptic. In Breathless, the use of jump cuts, the characters as reference to Hollywood Noir films: the story, the sound, the edit, the camera, the actors; Godard makes every aspect of his film a character, to highlight and analyze and subvert. In Godard's early work, he sought to subvert every conception of what film grammar was. Context was his gun, the film reel the revolver, the image the bullet. The result is a sort of reflexive idiosyncratic lucidity. Yes I made that phrase up, yes it's super pretentious, but look up each word and combine it, and you'll just get what I mean. Godard makes his films with the atmosphere of the movie theatre in mind, he knows it is his canvas, so the way he expresses himself on this form is almost painterly or symphonic, he projects a thematic cinematic quality, a "Je e sais quoi" that all great filmmakers have. That's an update on Godard up to this point. I'll now break down First Name: Carmen.

Review: Godard's "Prename: Carmen", with Maruschka Detmers as the titled character: follows a young woman who asks her Uncle, a faux-senile ex-filmmaker played by Godard himself, to help herself and her associates produce a documentary. In the meantime, Carmen and her posse rob banks and plan kidnappings as a means for... crowd funding. On a very casual heist, a handsome security guard attempts to fight off the robbers, but ends up falling in love and running away with Carmen instead.

Godard explores love, lust, society, and his reputation all within the intertextual package of Raoul Coutard's (15th and final collaboration w/ Godard) subtle and dreamy cinematography. Godard plays with the idea of his reputation, he plays an old filmmaker outed from the industry. While his niece wants to help him make a comeback, the film that she suggest they make.. seems to play out within this very film, they are in the film talking about the film itself. The documentary she wants to make is the fiction of which is this film, of which Godard directs within outside the film. Is the story of a film another character, one who you can't even gossip about since he's in the room? This is post-modernism btw. Uncle Jean even wonders to one of Carmen's filmmaker friends, over cigarettes and coffee: "You're not making a real documentary, are you?", "I hope that documentary is fiction.". That scene within itself allows Godard to contemplate his own film while he is simultaneously immerse in its frame. I think you get it.

He even features randomly cuts to group of orchestral musicians playing the score of the film that was just overlapping the story. They give each other notes, they are in front of an being the frame of the image. Godard shows the character behind the character of his film.

Carmen, with the handsome security guard played by Joseph Bonnaffé, folic around in Uncle Jean's condo after the heist, the location she got the green light to shoot the documentary. Again, Godard references himself, a long scene with a couple going back and forth about their ambitions. As Breathless was of foreplay, and Le Mepris of dissolution, Godard comments on the nature of the male and female relationship in general. The elusive femme fatale, the aggressive male courter. Enchantment and disenchantment. Lustful aggression, every push is a kiss. He rips open her shirt, he gets on his knees and lays his head on her tender bare chest, "Why do women exist". She calls him Jo instead of Pierrot, he corrects her, it's Joseph. "If I love you, that's the end of you". Adjacent to jarring cuts to crashing waves on the shore, always moving, glowing, tranquil, full of beauty and terror, like rushes of blood, like sex and heaven.

The documentary is now to be shot in a Paris hotel, a nicer one than Patricia's. The relationship dissolves there, Joseph can now only touch the empty static of the television, nothing and no one to turn to. She's disgusted by him, his love was the end of him. Uncle Jean agreed to shoot a casino film when he talked over coffee and cigs with one of Carmen's friends. The posse plans to kidnap a rich father and daughter their. Joseph wants to get in on the plan, but he's excluded, he won't give up on Carmen. The kidnapping fails, Joseph shoots Carmen, lovers are cowards. They are "innocent and guilty", even when all is lost, we will still wake up the next day. New again.

Closing: Two mysteries left with this film. There is this documentary on you tube called "Jean-Luc Godard / Anna Karina" which details their relationship. But also reveals that each of his films from Vivre Sa Vie to Pierrot Le Fou, are subtly and not subtly layered and even revolve around how he fell in not out of love with Karina. Which leaves me to question what the relationship in this film is a reference too.

That's as much as I could articulate in words what Godard was conveying in this film at the moment, i've only seen it once. It is one of his most dense and articulate pieces, an incredibly over looked gem. I suggest becoming familiar with Godard's other works and the context behinds those films as well, as this film rewards you with subtle homage, layered with new context. I hate this phrase, Godard's Prenom: Carmen is a tour de force. Be warned, only watch this after your 6th or 7th Godard film, and maybe a documentary, and interview.
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Idiosyncratic Godard!
Bratt27 May 1999
Maruschka is taking her kit off in almost every scene, one almost doubts Godard's intentions. The film starts off on a self deprecatory note with Godard playing himself as a film director hospitalized with an unstable mind. A seemingly ordinary storyline takes on strange hues with its disjointed narrative and its treatment of certain scenes. The bank holdup is seen with a cynical eye which lends the whole scene farcical.An oddity in world cinema, best appreciated by film historians and buffs.
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nudity the most striking thing in this movie
SnoopyStyle10 August 2015
Carmen is a part of a terrorist group. Her uncle Jeannot (Godard) lends her his seaside apartment. Carmen and her group try to rob a bank. She gets tangled up and falls in love with security guard Joseph. She escapes with Joseph handcuffed to her back to uncle Jeannot's apartment.

This is not an action thriller. It has some surreal touches. The most striking thing is the explicit sexual content in this movie by director Jean-Luc Godard. It's done without sexuality. It's Joseph forcing his masturbation on Carmen in the shower. It's not the most compelling thriller. It's also not surrealistic enough to be interesting. It has a lot of different elements. Some work better than others.
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Accessible Godard
gavin694211 April 2016
Carmen is a member of a terrorist gang who falls in love with a young police officer guarding a bank that she and her cohorts try to rob. She leads him on while dragging the two of them closer to their ultimate doom.

What the average viewer will take away from this film is the excessive nudity, both male and female. There is a shower scene that is hard to forget, because it is both perverse and terribly sad. I can only imagine how hard this film would have been to get into American theaters.

The moment you really know this film is bonkers, however, involves a store bathroom. A man, a woman, a urinal, and another man... and a jar of baby food. Now, for the rest of my life, I can say (for good or bad) Godard has changed the way I look at cinema.
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supported by Detmers' nudity
wvisser-leusden25 June 2011
As happens more with Godard, it's not easy to lay a finger on 'Prenom: Carmen' (= French for 'First name: Carmen'). Although the film appears to be chaotic, it somehow is kept together by a number of invisible strings.

Anyway, the very pleasant & often repeated bottom lines are made by a classical chamber orchestra, as well as by shots of sea-waves breaking themselves on the coast.

In between the meager plot develops in a sequence of varying scenes, even including a touch of slapstick. However, in the end one cannot escape the conclusion that 'Prenom: Carmen' needs to be supported by Maruschka Detmer's frequent nudity to leave a more lasting impression.
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visinescul26 February 2005
I'm sorry, but it didn't make too much sense for me. The movie is hard to follow and I won't give it another chance. Godard work might be great for some people, but for me the guy looked terrible himself as a character and bad as a director.

I agree, great acting from Detmers and Bonnaffé, lovely music (the string quartet), but at the end I felt that I wasted my time. The plot is all messed up, I wasn't sure "when" it'll start the action or if there is such a thing. Even having read some comments before watching the movie, it was hard to figure out some things (i.e. where is the place in time of the court trial or if this was a dream or reality). There are also some useless embarrassing moments (the hotel attendants begging for tips).

One last thing: Goddard looks and acts like Woody Allen. If you're one of his fans, it might be a great movie to watch. For me was quite annoying.
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My ninth Godard..
chaos-rampant19 February 2011
Prenom Carmen is possibly the most accessible Godard I've seen in my quest so far. What this means, is that at least partially the traditional devices of cinema, story, characters, a turn of events, are accepted or tolerated at some face value. Characters are allowed to behave like they're in a movie without having to look back at the camera to note its presence. He puts something on the table for others, for the casual watcher, as though coming out of a decade of isolation he yearns for some company, for a theater where he's not sitting alone with his thoughts on the screen.

This desire to be open does not mean, of course, that Godard forsakes his idiosynchracy, the habitual criticizing. He plays himself in the film, the half-mad middle aged crank director chomping on his cigar like a Sam Fuller, at some point he says that "Mao was the best chef, he fed all of China", but that's almost a bad joke or an afterthought (bitterly ironic considering the hundreds of thousands Mao starved to death in that effort to feed them), and I get the impression from Prenom Carmen of an attempt to ruminate on the transience of life and time, the beauty of nature. These moments of quiet beauty, the shots of waves crashing on a beach, an evening sky with an early moon, night trains passing each other on the rails, show the desire of the director to reflect at a kind of peace.

The commitment is not total though, because Godard still clings to outside conditions, he still feels the need to comment politically, but that's only when he himself comes on screen. What used to be an object of serious consideration though, is now relegated to a quirk, to a caricaturist's signature. As such, I read it as a sign of disillusionment, like Godard partly views himself as the crony pariah of cinema he portrays in the film, pushed to the side, babbling and ranting to himself.

The film about a film device is put to rather average use, it's an opportunity to set up a heist plot then pushed to the side again. What intrigues me a lot here is the overlapping timeline. As the bank heist erupts in gunshots, the film cuts to a string quartet rehearsing Mozart, they stop and one of the players asks the girl to play with more violence. Later we see the same girl peering up close to the tablature to see is there something to be deciphered in the notes, doing that she mutters to herself a question about the clouds and "will they part to reveal torrents of life".

A central tenet in the film is something about the innocent and the guilty and how they're on opposite corners, but the suggestion on injustice is only vague, a sketch without backbone. Other quotations are banal or obvious, but the difference for me from his New Wave days, is that irreverence is no longer an aspiration. It's a source of humor, but there's an effort to reach out for the poetic. Godard playing himself in the film says at some point that we need to close our eyes, not open them, but I believe he's beginning here to open himself up to something more than interpreting or criticizing, to the possibility of seeing the world. From my little investigation, I'm looking forward to see if he carried that over to films like Nouvelle Vague and Helas pour Moi.
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Pretentious crap
MartinHafer12 July 2005
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.

Oh did I hate this movie! It's artsy-fartsy crap like this that turns many people off from foreign films, and that's a great shame as there are so many French films better than this. In fact, I challenge you to come up with one worse! The film is rife with weird editing and extended shots of waves crashing. This is meant to be "sophisticated"; I think it looks very amateurish and overdone.

The story itself is pretty meaningless and confusing. It's about some terrorists who like to get naked A LOT (by the way, the female lead could really use a shave) and whose emotions are up and down more than your average roller-coaster. What some say is artistic, I think is boring and banal.

The only element that made me the least bit interested in the film is that the director himself plays, of all things, a "crazy director". Wow--that's some stretch. It's sort of like asking Cookie Monster to play someone who loves to eat! Unless you LIKE pretentious movies that are 100% boring, do NOT watch this film!

PS--if you actually LIKE this sort of mess, then by all means look for Godard's other "masterpiece", ALPHAVILLE. It's also a total piece of crap and a total waste of time.
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Only the String Quartet Sets it apart from "A Cinderella Story"
aimless-4622 January 2005
Cutting to the chase I can't imagine many viewers actually enjoying "First Name: Carmen". It is an ugly film with uninteresting sets, muddy documentary-style color, and silly to boring acting. Maruschka Detmers is on screen most of the time, often involved in the most non-erotic erotic scenes this side of "Bloody Mama"- shave those eyebrows baby!

I kept feeling that I had seen this film somewhere before and finally I realized that I had it confused with another film. But this confusion illustrated how the extremes of the "film style continuum" actually meet and form a circle. And to my surprise Godard's new-wave creation closes this circle by linking up with the movie I kept being reminded of: Hillary Duff's "A Cinderella Story"; although they come at their more moronic qualities from opposite directions. Godard manages to purge Bizet's "Carmen" of all its beauty, energy, and suspense. Duff's adaptation of "Cinderella" succeeds in purging all the beauty, charm, and suspense from the classic "Cinderella". Both films star equally tired and vaguely repellent actresses, the slug-like Duff and the "I have hair in more places than Josh Harnett" Maruschka Detmers.

They have virtually identical plots: Carmen wants to make a film-Sam (Duff) wants to attend Princeton, but neither has the money. Carmen attempts a bank robbery but is foiled by a guard-Sam applies for a Princeton scholarship but is foiled by her wicked stepmother (played by Stiffler's mom). Carmen meets Joseph during the robbery and they flee to her uncle's apartment barely avoiding capture-Sam connects with her anonymous cyber soul mate at the Halloween dance and flees to her fry-cook job just in time to avoid being caught. Carmen goes to a luxury hotel where they stage a film as a pretext for kidnapping a guest-Sam goes to a pep rally where the cheerleaders stage a play as a pretext for disclosing her identity and breaking up her budding romance. Carmen's kidnapping caper is foiled by the police-Sam's evil stepmother's inheritance scheme is foiled by the discovery of a secret will. Carmen goes out mumbling some expressionistic stuff to the bellboy-Sam's new boyfriend chooses Princeton over USC.

Godard became famous by ignoring the established conventions of narrative, communicating visually in an ugly documentary style, and spending very little money during the production phase of his projects. The problem with his approach is that very few real and potential viewers can even hope to connect enough for these personal political essays to communicate anything. Duff's film's are too shallow to communicate anything substantial but they do connect to their audience of pre-teen viewers. As for "Carmen", run out and find me a pre-teen to explain the film to me, I can't make head or tail out of it.
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Godard took us around
charlybrown28 November 2012
I just watched again Prenom Carmen after many years, and now as the first time I watched it 30 years ago, I don't know what I have watched. The director knew he was considered a great of its kind, and may be he wanted to cross over in the excess to provoke the audience. With this film, Godard seems, for some reason angry with self-righteous and critical of his work, he wanted to make fun of everybody deliberately turning an incoherent and ugly film. There seems to be successful, in fact he has divided the audience among those who, regardless, have a positive opinion on this film still calling him a genius, and others who consider a waste of time to have watched this movie. Or, we are simply light years away from understanding Godard. (sorry for my English).
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jonfaith13 February 2008
Playful, but always daunting. A puddle of urine on the courthouse steps. I wasn't sure what to expect from the film. recovering from a cold, I was charmed by the melange of music, street noise and the vast silence of the ocean; the last of which appears to yield a philosophical full stop on all digressions, into desire, schools of economics, the possibility of human justice and the inertia of the diagnosis in world shorn of meta-narratives. It may be maudlin but Joseph's clutching the television during the Tom Waits song remains for myself the seminal scene in the film. I have to also admit relishing Godard channeling Preston Sturges in the scenes featuring himself.
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Prénom: Carmen
bcarlos30 March 2011
Prénom: Carmen follows a young woman as she falls in love with a security guard who works at a bank she and her friends rob. Hiding in a house near the sea, they share a love that is marked by the impossibility of it to be. The film has some wonderful images, music and scenes, but my main problem with it is that I don't know who these characters are, I never connect with them. We have a truly beautiful love story in front of us, but one that feels really empty and rather forced.

A scene that had the potential to be heartbreaking (the scene with the television) remains as a rather laughable and pretentious one. This isn't the actors' fault, actually the performances are excellent, mostly Maruschka Detmers' as Carmen, but it is Godard's fault for not deepening at all in the characters. They come together, they break up, they try to return, but I don't care whether they end up together or not.

The film though has some wonderful recurring images, mostly the string quartet that plays Beethoven often softly often aggressively as the relationship goes through different stages. Two trains cross each other coming from different directions when the lovers come together or apart and constant images of the waves at the sea are also some other recurring scenes. All these images are extremely beautiful, as are all the angles from the normal scenes of the film. The lights are all very carefully thought of and the film, despite its slight pretentiousness and the little interest we have for its characters, manages to be very entertaining and has a hilarious bank robbery scene. Godard also appears as probably the most interesting character. He plays himself and lives in a mental hospital for being the only completely sincere person in the film and doing and saying whatever he wants all the time.

Prénom: Carmen is a surreal impossible love story with wonderful performances and direction, an engaging soundtrack and a love story we don't care about.

Rating: 2.5/5.
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those tolderable of art house cinema are bound to love this masterpiece!
framptonhollis31 May 2017
The legendary filmography of Jean-Luc Godard lies somewhere between the four roads of comedy, tragedy, philosophy, and poetry, and "First Name: Carmen" does not disappoint on any of these wide- ranging tonal fronts.

As I have said time and time again, Godard does not make "messy" movies. His films may contain various tonal shifts, but they are always done with expertise, for Godard is a professional juggler of sorts; however, instead of juggling balls in a circus he juggles emotions in the cinema. As funny as it is sad, "First Name: Carmen" certainly shows off some of Godard's finest humor. The absurd opening bank "action" sequence is unexpectedly hilarious as some of Godard's blackest comedic bits take center stage. One hilarious shot contains a janitor nonchalantly cleaning up dead corpses; if such an image tickles your funny bone in any way, you will have a blast with some of this film's funnier moments. Godard, himself, has a supporting role as a highly eccentric filmmaker who spends his time faking illness to avoid making movies and engaging in witty philosophical musings with those who cross his path.

Other sections of the film are crafted with a sharp sense of melancholy as the film's beautifully poignant soundtrack, a majority of which is made up of sensitive violin music of the highest quality, howls in the background. Moments of romance also invade Godard's masterpiece, and they are often portrayed with a relentlessly poetic style. The violin music growing louder, images of waves clashing, the lovers' dialogue going back and forth, coming in and out; Godard explores the beauty of cinema. He takes advantage of every possible trick he can an uses it to an ambitious degree. Godard's films seem to be made for both entertainment and experiment, and "First Name: Carmen" is most certainly a primary example of this. One could watch this once a day and never get bored as they find new things to laugh along with, gawk at, cry to, and think about. Godard explores the most intimate corners of a relationship, the funniest aspects of crime, and the silliest traits of a filmmaker/philosopher. Those who can handle the film's avant garde, genre-bending style will likely soon fall in love with Godard's quirky, romantic, funny, and bizarre tragicomic experiment, while others may just gawk at its endless absurdity and occasionally juvenile imagery and dialogue.
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mwathieric23 September 2011
I've seen a lot of crazy films, but this one beats all of them by far, in this respect.

That film is so crazy that when I watched it last night, I wondered if something was wrong with the TV or something.

I'm not moaning. I love crazy films and loved Carmen so much. In fact after owning Breathless and Two or Three Things I know about Her, I did not even know this guy could even make good films.

His other films were so rubbish and so overrated, that Carmen was a film that Goddard had made to actually make all that praise that he has been getting seem somehow justified.

Goddard, your alright. Kepp at it.
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Pretentious, Dated Rubbish.
aklcraigc21 March 2014
This is the second time I've watched this film, obviously, my memory had faded sufficiently after the first time, otherwise I would not had undertaken such an arduous task. Every scene reeks of Godard's dated, disgusting intellectual pretensions, the guy hates everybody and everything. Actors annoyingly overact their way through every scene, obviously having no idea what their characters are meant to be doing, or where the 'plot' is going. The 'action' sequences contain heavy handed symbolism (the usual tripe, the malaise of the bourgeoisie etc.) which I suspect are meant to be funny, but just come off as intellectually lazy. Godard inserts himself as some kind of shamanic figure who throws out philosophic gems which would sound embarrassing coming from a teenager, he also finds time to flick his cigar ash into other people's food and seemingly attempts to molest his niece in one of the initial scenes, that crazy Godard! In the end, it's just a redundant exercise in breaking all the rules, there is no transcendence or insight here, all we have is the empty, stillborn descendant of Duchamp's toilet.
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