Paris, 1967. Jean-Luc Godard, the maker of "A bout de souffle", "Le Mépris" and "Pierrot le fou", idolized by critics and intellectuals, is shifting from revolutionizing cinema to becoming a revolutionary tout court. Isn't he shooting "La Chinoise", more a political tract in favor of Maoism than an actual movie? His female star is Anne Wiazemsky, writer François Mauriac's granddaughter, sixteen years his junior. Anne and Jean-Luc have been dating since 1966 and they marry this very year. She admires Jean-Luc's originality, intelligence, wit and boldness while he loves Anne's freshness and - admiration of him. But May 1968 puts their marriage to the test. Godard, who is more and more involved in the revolution, indeed becomes less and less available to his young wife, which does not prevent him from acting jealous. It also looks as if the genius is losing his sense of humor.Written by
When in the film Godard meets the filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, there is the curious circumstance that the actor who plays the first of them (Louis Garrel) obtained his first cinematographic success in real life under the orders of the Italian director in "The Dreamers" (2003). See more »
Politics is like shoes. There's a left and a right, but eventually you will want to go barefoot.
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Godard is not the sort of typical subject for a film. To say he lacks empathy, that he assaults the cosy preconceptions of much cinema and its audiences, is well-known.
At the time of this film he was undergoing a transition: he renounced his break-through films, he was intensely political in that celebrity French style which is often more pose and belles-lettres, than real accomplishment, a fact made clear in this film.
To present him in that anodyne fashion which Hollywood does, which is essential deceitful, as say "A Beautiful Mind" and many other movies, would be truly dishonest but fortunately this film does not do that. It is quite a good presentation of that period, both socially-politically and personally.
The film's style naturally, almost logically, had to be á la Godard, in some way, and it works without being pastiche. At times it pushes a little far but mostly enough to give that sense of how Godard's films looked at that time and before.
This is especially true of the interiors, a favorite setting and device of Godard's in the 1960s, where he had couples discuss and debate as they moved about apartments. Here the famous sequence in "Contempt" when Piccoli and Bardot's marriage ended is almost reprised as Godard and Wiazemsky's relationship shatters. The inspirational touch in this film was to add Richard Strauss's luscious but fatalistic song, Im Abendrot (At Sunset), over this sequence.
The performances are all done well. A little more lisp from Garrel's Godard perhaps, but really, technically and the overall production, the whole movie looks just right.
Well worth the time and a reminder that once films, and cinema generally, actually mattered socially and politically.
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