Review of Vivre Sa Vie

Vivre Sa Vie (1962)
Just poetry
18 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
What happens when the cinema stops being narrative? is the question that Godard asks us with Vivir su vida. In addition to being a profound meditation on sex and human will, it is one of his most complex films, in which his cinematic intelligence is appreciated: he continually reminds us that we are spectators. This reflection is part of Godard's intention to seek the true nature of cinema; what it is, what it does and what it can become. All this makes Vivir su vida is one of the greatest exponents of the Nouvelle Vague and one of the masterpieces of its director.

Living Your Life tells the story of how Nina (Anna Karina) leaves his husband to slowly immerse himself in the worlds of prostitution. There she meets Raoul (Saddy Rebbot), whom she falls in love with. However, they conflict when she tries to flee the streets. All this, in a country worthy of the 60s, in which pimps and gangsters fill the streets, while philosophers and writers populate the coffee shops. However, the clichés typical of film noir do not go beyond complicit winks to the viewer, since any possible cataloging is subordinated to Godard's original way of making cinema.

But one of the most innovative aspects of the film are the twelve altarpieces that divide it. These act as a short, non-conclusive synopsis and are framed within the film's accumulation of narratives. This, apart from his apparent criticism of previous cinema, is part of Godard's play on words and images: a union of a disparate nature with which he plays and opposes sensations. In Vivir su vida, the word conceptualizes, and the concrete image; while the narrative gives global cohesion. Therefore, it depends on which scene, the Parisian director emphasizes one aspect or another. This is especially seen in the first scene. In it, by not directly showing us the faces of the characters, it gives priority to the word over the image that is denied to us.

On the other hand, the scene in which Nina writes the letter, the opposite effect occurs: the text does not have as much importance as the aesthetic value of each of the letters that the protagonist makes. Hence it is also said that Godard's cinema is, in addition to being intellectual, poetic on many occasions.

At heart, Vivir su vida is a film, in addition to criticism, of cult towards the actress of Nana, then Godard's partner. It is the perfect observation of her muse. In the film, there comes a moment when the image of the word is dissociated and a poem by Edgar Allan Poe is introduced (curious fact: read by Godard himself): "this is the story, that of a painter who portrays his loved".

The poem acts in an essayistic way in contrast to Nana's face, who remains expectant. With this small gesture, Godard intellectualizes his work towards the fascination towards his muse. It is the fusion of poetry and essay, combined in the same way that the image and the word do.

Another question posed by the film is How should we look at Nana? it is shown to us from a thousand different perspectives: from the front, from the left, from the right ... It is a struggle of concepts, of points of view about prostitution. And Godard criticizes him by calling his work "Vivir su vida", which signifies both the primacy of Nana's decision to be a prostitute and our rejection of someone who voluntarily chooses him. And in the face of this genius, the only thing we can do is look. Look predisposed that this perfect essay captivates you, absorbs you and questions reality.

Nana: Why must one always talk? Often we should't talk, but live in silence.
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