Detective (1985)
Detective (1985, Jean-Luc Godard)
10 June 2009
This is why I love Godard. He turned a 'commercial' project he did in order to get financing for "Hail Mary" into one of his most enthralling late works, a sleeker, leaner, funnier, lighter version of the sort of film Godard made after the 60's. The film follows four different 'stories' in the Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare in Paris, where the entire film is set. Something of a deconstruction of the detective film or film-noir on paper, but the film is more formally interesting than it is story-wise (though its 'narrative' is often very amusing and overall very entertaining). Although critical reviews of "Detective" seem to be positive (all the ones I can find anyway, including Variety and the New York Times among others), the film is overall not too popular, and from my experience not too well-liked by Godard fans either. Shame as well because the fact that "Detective" combines some of the zip and light humor of Godard's early work with the more experimental sensibilities of later Godard films doesn't mean this is in any way lacking as a filmic experiment. It's gorgeously-shot with superb, intricate mise-en-scène, and features some of the most interesting and complex editing in any Godard film, but what really steals the show is the sound, which is an entire world all on its own. The visual splendor of the film is not only complimented, but overshadowed by the creative sound editing and mixing, genius use of music, and aural gags and puns. Dedicated to Edgar G. Ulmer, Clint Eastwood, and John Cassavetes, "Detective" is one of Godard's best, and likely his most criminally under-appreciated. It does ask for a patient, observant audience willing to listen carefully, but rewards that patience with great comic energy and some fascinating and beautiful aural experimentation. One of the best casts Godard ever worked with as well.
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