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
This bizarre mélange of genres--documentary, comedy, tell-all from a former lover--views above all like a hit job. This is the second film I encountered this week which focuses on a disgruntled former girlfriend´s unhappiness that her extraordinary lover turned out not to be entirely normal. (The other one was Mad to be Normal, about Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing). I find this sort of depiction of Godard, on the one hand, and R. D. Laing, on the other, to be disagreeable in the extreme. I have no difficulty believing that men with big personalities and egos are difficult to have relationships with. But to make an entire film about what a cad ¨the cad¨ is alleged to be (by a former lover) strikes me as an unvarnished act of revenge. Nietzsche (and probably Godard, since he has always liked Nietzsche) would surely identify in this production a consummate expression of ¨ressentiment¨.
It seems to me that there is something rather puerile about falling in love with someone who is an artist (touted by many as a creative genius) and then expecting him to suddenly be the average-joe husband and dad (in the case of R.D. Laing). How could that possibly turn out to be the case? It´s a package deal. You get the extraordinarily wonderful with the extraordinarily difficult to live with. Needless to say, I do not think well of the female protagonist here, who seems to have wanted to profit from what she viewed as her victimhood. Ugh.
I also found confusing that the director tried to imitate Godard´s style--part of the time, but not all of the time--while also trashing him. A confusing and unsatisfying creation, in my opinion. The comedic elements pretty much disappeared by the end, when all that remains is the whiny girlfriend and what is depicted as Godard´s descent into Maoist Marxism.
Godard haters will love this thrashing.
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