Contempt - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Contempt Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2010
A powerful and devastating story that depicts with painful honesty the gradual dismantling of a marriage triggered by an ambiguous lack of trust, and it is a big-budget Godard gem that blends sentiment and intellectual musings in a very unique way.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2011
Godard's first major international picture is a visual feast. The use of Cinescope is startling and the colors are so brilliant that they seem to leap off the screen. Godard also utilizes some of the subtly hypnotic camera work that we saw in his previous films. For instance, in one conversation between Camille and Paul, Godard lifts a scene verbatim from 1962's Vivre Sa Vie.
Aside from the camera work, the film is a heartbreaking look at the disintegration of a marriage, the price of selling out, and the constant tug of war between the classical and the modern. It moves at a snail's pace but once you get a feel for it, it can at times be rather touching.
With that said, I feel like Godard missed a lot of opportunities to achieve a genuine catharsis. The ambiguity of Bardot's contempt for her husband places a wall between the characters and the viewer. While I can appreciate ambiguity, in a film which centers on a single relationship I think the audience needs more to run with.
On top of this, Palance's performance seemed to rub me the wrong way. I know that he is the greedy American producer, but his performance seemed way too over the top to be believable.
While not Godard's best, it is definitely worth a watch.
Super Reviewer
December 19, 2010
"There's nothing like the movies. Usually, when you see women, they're dressed. But put them in a movie, and you see their backsides."

Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife Camille drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to get get a better payment.

While he became far too self-indulgent later on in his career, from "Breathless" through "Week End", I am fascinated by Jean-Luc Goddard. No other filmmaker of the time managed to toy with the medium as well as he did. When it comes to meta-fiction, self reference, or breaking the forth wall, nobody can quite match Godard. In many ways, "Contempt" is one of his more restrained films, possibly since it was produced by a major studio with renowned film stars and a bigger budget. It isn't nearly as insane or shocking as "Band of Outsiders" or "Week End". However, this forced Godard to be a bit more subtle, as this contains some of his most vicious and biting attacks on the commercialization of art. Godard recognized that the major studio would attempt to bowdlerize his work, so he created a film for them about an artist being forced to compromise for profit.

Past the always interesting self reference, another reason this film works so well is that its possibly the most human of Godard's works. More than ever, his characters don't appear as revolutionary mouthpieces but actual people. Maybe its because he saw a lot of himself in the main character played by Michael Piccoli, but both him and the gorgeous Bridgette Bardot play well-rounded and sympathetic characters. This is just another layer to a complex film, one which poses questions and forces you to devise answers by watching it repeatedly. This isn't my personal favorite by Godard (that is, again, "Band of Outsiders"), but its another constantly fascinating film from the cinema's most restless experimenter.
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2006
Admittedly, I've had a copy of this movie for years but have never gotten through the whole thing until last night. Jesus Christ, was a pretentious piece of shit. I don't think I've hated a movie this much since Jules and Jim. And I've seen Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Some nice cinematography, Jack Palance's amusing for his first 15 minutes turn as the ugly American producer and Bardot's ass are the only reasons I don't entirely regret watching this movie. (But even her ass got old after a few minutes. There. I said it.) Okay, maybe Fritz Lang too but his appearance aside, there was not a single character in this movie that I cared about. Just a lot of fickle arguments in scenes that go on way too long. The dramatic score had an effect until it got played every six seconds and while I don't agree, this movie fully explains to me why people can hate foreign films. For me, trying to stay interested in this movie was like babysitting a bipolar beauty pageant winner on ecstasy -- I started off kind of interested, was quickly filled with hate, but ultimately finished the job because I told myself I would.
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2010
Cinematically rich! The dissolution of a marriage is poetically juxtaposed to the mythic tale of 'The Odyssey.' This film is also a commentary on artistic compromise and the process of filmmaking. To me, the difference between Odysseus' character analysis within the film and book is of paramount interest. In the film, only two alternatives are provided, by the producer and director, and Paul chooses a vision. However, in the book, the script writer has his own perspective. Even more telling is the view espoused by the producer in the film (actually the director in the book), reveals a demythologized, anti-heroric, debased world, which Paul fully supports. The compromise is complete!!!
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2007
when marital bliss turns into marital discord, it can be swift, painful, and incredibly confusing. some of the shots in this film are phenomenal and the landscapes in the later part of the film are picture perfect. it was excellent to see fritz lang play himself in a fairly large role in this film but i have just one question i must seek an answer to - at the end when we see lang directing a scene of the odyssey, was that scene his vision or was it godard directing lang on how to direct that scene?
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2008
Although, visually, it is highly poetic, and although Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, and Fritz Lang shine in certain scenes, Le Mepris drags its confusing message for an hour and a half of creative editing and stunning cinematography.

Apparently, Godard's film is a critic towards the Hollywood perspective of cinema. It is also an honest "scene from a marriage" because the conflicts between Paul and his wife Camille are absolutely believable.

Unfortunately, I found Godard's criticism to wear off after the first half of the film and the love/hate story also lost my interest towards that moment. I think perhaps he got lost in getting his opinion across, to the point he didn't bother to maintain the allure Le Mepris has during its first quarter. For example, the very opening scene in which Camille asks Paul whether he loves *all* of her is unique in cinema. But for the most part, the rest ranges from good to dull.

All in all, Le Mepris has some good scenes and dialog and it must definitely be seen for its value as one of Godard's most well-known and mainstream films, but I didn't find it to have the same innovative, rebellious, in-your-face attitude and energy as Masculin/Feminin, for example. Knowing how far Godard could go and how much he could challenge his audience, this film just seems a little tame.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2008
First movie i tried to watch from Godard, and yes, i used "tried" in the best way possible. I'll stick with what Herzog thinks about that french snob.

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Super Reviewer
January 3, 2010
Not my favourite Godard
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2012
Of the little I've seen him I'm finding it very hard to enjoy a Godard movie. I can appreciate his directing style, but his films seem to very bland in my eyes. I still do have to see Breathless though. In this film, Contempt, it felt like Godard was trying to immigrate Fellini's films La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. I didn't feel an originality, or anything to make me interested. Outside a wonderful use of colors and cinematography there wasn't to much in this film
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2011
One of Godard's best
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2011
Not wholly successful and yet strangely beguiling. The presence of the lovely Bardot helps no end.
Super Reviewer
½ September 4, 2010
Although it's been created as such, "Contempt" is less about the anxiety of movie-making than it is about a moody, on the verge romance. Godard started it with the usual insider look at the hardships and different faces of creating motion pictures, with Jack Palance perfectly embodying the stereotypical tyrant producer whose constant tantrums makes up for his lack of knowledge and passion with the medium. Again, during the early moments of the film, as the philosophical thoughts began to mount, anxiety struck me about whether or not this film would just turn into another Godard oddity. But the auteur, incorporating his gift for filming conversations, has painted possibly one of the most psychologically satisfying(and on a certain extent, realistic) display of a marriage suddenly squandering into nothingness after one ambiguous event. Aside from the eponymous overall theme of the film that suggests that men and women all have subconscious disdain over one another that reinforces sexist skirmishes, it's also about the two sharp edges of "compromise", of work and love, of bodily passion and vocation, and how unbalanced choices between each would certainly result into immediate emotional asunder. Fritz Lang, the famous German director, was solidified on screen with this film, just as how "Sunset Blvd." did it to Cecil DeMille.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2006
Is it possible for one human being to understand another human being? Can we communicate successfully? Well this film sure can. Watch it if you want to learn about life, love, humanity, making movies, etc...etc.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2008
Jerry Prokosch: Whenever I hear the word "culture," I bring out my checkbook.

Fritz Lang: Some years ago - some horrible years ago - the Nazis used to take out a pistol instead of a checkbook.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2007
On first look, it may seem a little trying, but if you let it marinate, think about it about go back to it, it turns out pretty damn great.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2007
One of, if not the most accessible of Godard films. A screenwriter's relationship with his beautiful wife painfully disintegrates as he is trying to do re-writes on a Fritz Lang film.
½ September 21, 2015
Two things I'm learning about French cinema: I dig earlier Godard to his later output and holy shit, Brigitte Bardot!

Well worth a look, track it down and give it a rental.
½ August 5, 2014
Fabulous piece of French film history. Not my favorite of Godard's films, but if Zoe Kazan forgives me than I guess it's okay! It's a bit slow and depressing complete with a lovely score that is obnoxiously loud compared to the rest of the film and only comes in 10 second swells to cover dialogue at pivotal moments :) The scenes in the apartment are the best, and the lengthiness of them makes it feel like you're a voyeur into the crumbling relationship the film presents. The ongoing metaphor with The Odyssey and film-within-a-film make this worth a peep.
½ July 15, 2014
I'll probably need to give this another watch down the road but something about it just never clicked for me. It seemed to indulgent at times and even though I love Godard as a person, his movies always have this cool detachment that makes it hard for me not to think of them as movies. They feel more like projects, each designed with a ton of craftsmanship but not a whole lot of soul. The films meta and literary parallels got a bit on my nerves after a while. Still not a bad film and a very intriguing one from certain aspects. It just never came together for me the way I hoped it would.
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