Masculin Feminin Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 9, 2011
Masculine Feminine is of popular culture, youth, love, and sex from Jean-Luc Godard starring French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud as Paul in a romantic pursuit for Madeleine, eventually involved in a "ménage à quatre." Vigorous narrative and visual style. Seductive.
Super Reviewer
March 15, 2011
And so begins my tour of Godard films ...
Of the five Godard films I've seen (and am going to see), this is the best, but that's not saying much. Normally, I begin my reviews with a sentence-long plot outline, but Godard is so entrenched in the post-structuralist disapproval of the typical story arc that it makes it difficult to render the film so simply. Rather, I think I can only report what I experienced while watching the film and hope it makes more sense than the film.
I think the film attempts to juxtapose the hedonistic tendency of the sixties against the decade's political turmoil. We see a flighty, apolitical pop song artist pursued by the politically aware but inactive Paul. He prioritizes his libido above his political concerns, but this can only last so long.
The film, in typical post-modern fashion, dives away from the plot into political rants that only tangentially connect to the main action.
Overall, Masculin Feminin is jumbled and often incoherent but ultimately rewarding.
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2007
weird weird movie. Not my favorite Godard...kind of like Life's quirky for quirky's sake
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2007
godards commentary on 1960's young people in france is interesting and insightful, while a bit bizarre at the same time. many of the signature godard techniques are here, including a texture quite similar to breathless. the quirky story becomes tragic in a way not coherent with the direction of the rest of the story, but the film as a whole is very good.
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2008
The 60s' young Parisian scene is about pop music, bowling alleys, dance clubs, cafés... Paul and Madeleine talk about music, films, sex, and love. Not much seems to have changed.

Jean Luc Godard introduces us to this environment as to simply show us in detail what the hip up-and-coming generation of the 60s thinks, or doesn-t think, what it loves and loathes, what troubles or doesn't trouble it. Paul is a pseudo-intellectual journalist, writer, and activist, who falls for a rising pop star, Madeleine. This is hardly relevant; what truly matters is that by following their relationship we get to listen to their conversations.

The ride is fascinating because it's easy to relate to it. Amid the troubling scenario of the War in Vietnam, traces of French socialism and the apathy of a great deal of his generation, Paul has to combine both what he feels as his political commitment and his desire to simply be young and have fun, have sex, listen to music, be silly, drink Coca-Cola? The film, Godard says, might as well be named "The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola": a living contradiction, almost a double life. Paul, who is concerned with what happens around him, struggles to combine his need to be opinionated with his inherent position as a part of the superfluous so-called Pepsi generation Madeleine, his girlfriend, is so enthusiastically devoted to. At a certain point, it's unavoidable to see that Paul, who represents a part of Parisian youth, is caught up between two interests, and he's desperate to find some clarity, only he doesn't know it. Madeleine and her friends, on the other hand, are isolated from their political reality, too often combing their hair, talking about boys and giggling.

I found the story to be a very fascinating character study. Chantal Goya is downright lovely and sporadically annoying to perfection. Jean Pierre Leaud is the best actor to ever play "angry young men" without becoming a cliche, he does it with no self-preservation instincts, risking ridicule with all sorts of antics, spontaneity, a total lack of self-confidence, and humor, only to suddenly become collected, frustrated, angry, or sad. He takes Paul from extreme to extreme of the emotional scale. I loved his performance. My only complaint would be that the girls of the film are too frigid, too shallow, and too foolish. But perhaps this is what the girls of the Pepsi generation appeared to Godard.

Stylistically, it's an achievement. The photography is very beautiful throughout. The way the film is structured overall could have been very pretentious, but it seems pertinent as I watched. Although Godard's philosophic pauses between chapters may be utterly incomprehensible sometimes, some were pretty clever. What truly stands out, though, is the dialogue: Paul delivers line after line of razor-sharp phrases like a machine gun. Most observations by all the different characters range from the very intelligent, to the stereotypical, to the confusing and the shallow, which is why the script never bores and never wears out.

Look out for a fantastic parody of 60s European eroticism (allegedly of Ingmar Bergman's The Silence) and what some of the characters think of it. It's a brilliant moment.
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2005
[font=Century Gothic][color=darkorange]I have had problems with other Jean Luc-Godard films in the past - to be specific - Breathless is nothing more than a historic document. Contempt is half a good movie - the sections with Fritz Lang and Jack Palance as the producer from hell are priceless; the sections with Brigitte Bardot asking for opinions on various parts of her anatomy nearly put me into a coma. I did not really care for Weekend or Alphaville, either.[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff8c00][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff8c00]Which brings me to "Masculine-Feminine" which centers on the life of a would be revolutionary who has just gotten out of the army. He goes through a couple of jobs while romancing a would be pop singer. It's not bad but there is not a lot of depth here, either.[/color][/font]
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2013
Masculin Feminin isn't nearly as simple or straightforward as one would expect, but despite the occasional unnecessary scene, it's a fun, satirical, and insightful look at the "children of Marx and Coca-Cola", or teenagers in the sixties. The dialogue between Paul (French New Wave regular Jean-Pierre Leaud) and Madeleine (Chantal Goya) is especially great, and their first real conversation together is one of my new favorite scenes from a Godard film. Of course, Godard inserts some political commentary here and there along with some scenes that don't seem to to fit in with the rest of the movie, but even that doesn't become a problem because it's just so entertaining. The film has a fairly pessimistic attitude towards teenagers and pokes fun at them constantly, but yet it's still charming somehow. The only real downside to the film is the unexpected ending, which just seems sudden and tacked-on. Otherwise Masculin Feminin is one of Godard's better movies and an interesting look at youth culture in '60s France.
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2011
Remains forever young.
½ February 5, 2013
Akin to a cinematic sketchbook of "Issues I Think About," the movie has a lot of fun brooding behind a megaphone. It veers to the personal (love, sex, passion) and political (war, birth control, socialism), and the whole thing has a wry, angry, lustful, soulful atmosphere that makes you want to see what these crazy, aimless kids are going to say next. It's only too bad that Godard felt that intellectualism and social awareness was strictly a man's game, and that women - by their own design or society's - are reduced to "consumer products." Sure, he says right there in the dialogue that men are "asses," but he does worse by women with the revelation that they're "nothing" or "the end." The heady passion in "Masculin Feminin" is alive and bristling, but the sexism is overt and unfortunate.
February 29, 2012
as close to 1960's Paris youth culture as most of us will ever get and for that sense of time and place, I give this a five.
½ July 13, 2010
Sep 2009 - An experimental picture of the master of such experiments. I find myself fascinated that it is still pretty attractive and more amazed at the quality of the acting.
July 13, 2010
A dullard and two hot babes talk about shit. Ingmar Bergman thought it was boring, good enough for me.
May 30, 2007
This is a good one to watch with Sex, Lies and Videotape, very similar actually. It was pretty good, but not the best French film I have ever seen.
June 2, 2015
"We are the children of Marx and Coca-Cola," a character remarks in "Masculin Féminin". This isn't the character's sentiment, per se; it is, in actuality, the sentiment of Jean-Luc Godard, and he doesn't want to mention it passively. It is as though he wants the quote to be stamped on his grave, to be lauded as a visionary for generations to come. So who woulda thought that, nearly fifty years later, the children of those children's children would be the children of Tumblr and Starbucks, more likely to wonder aloud who the hell Marx is and why one should drink Coca-Cola when a five-dollar "coffee" awaits a few blocks down the road.
Godard's attitudes have, of course, dated over the course of a half-century - but the way he expresses them, the way he captures 1960s youth, have not. To be a successful Godard film is certainly not an easy thing. A director who can hardly suppress his love for bizarre sound manipulations ("Masculin Féminin" itself is often soundtracked by a single, cartoonish gun shot that seemingly comes out of nowhere) and teleprompter-ready intellectual speak, it doesn't take much for a Godard film to go from zero to insufferably pretentious miles-per-hour in an instant.
But most of the time, Godard keeps the politically/intellectually minded atmosphere humorous and engaging, even if you can't quite put your finger on why watching Jean-Pierre Léaud dive into a radically liberal speech is entrancing. The kiddos of "Masculin Féminin", all in their late-teens/early 20s, spend most of their time smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in stylish cafés around the city, delighting each other in their oh-so-adult conversations and escaping in movies they know they're smarter than. All attractive, all high in their hopes, all avant-garde, they regard sex as a breezy pastime, responsibilities as a chore they can save for later. They act worldly, name-dropping Sartre whenever the time comes, but heaven knows they would be much more content swimming in each other's cerebral coolness than actually do something with their lives. Leading lady Chantal Goya, who portrays the ambitious Madeline Zimmer, wants to become a yé-yé singer - but does she know that Sylvie Vartan and Françoise Hardy were one-in-a-million chanteuses hard to recreate?
"Masculin Féminin" is about everything while also being about nothing. It covers just about every topic found in the mind of a '60s dwelling youth, but it knows that these are just fleeting thoughts, especially when considering most of the stuff happening internationally is the responsibility of the leader of the free world (whoever that is, a character might accidentally grunt). A café is perched just a block down the street and, last time I checked, I wasn't the leader of the free world.
The film doesn't take itself seriously, and its actors are likable; New Wave staple Léaud is always so fascinating to watch (don't ask me why), and Goya, looking like a typical Anna Karina-type, enchants with her childlike smile and jet-black, Anna Wintour reminiscent bob. "Masculin Féminin" is Godard at his most focused, his most audience oriented - it is a pleasure from start to finish, even if we don't quite have a grip on what we just watched.
May 5, 2015
Here are two or three things i know about Jean-Luc Godard: i don't get it, i don't get it, and i don't get it. His actors definitely have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi -- some of the least unenjoyable scenes in the movie are the ones when people are just talking to each other (usually about nonsense). But i can't handle the terrible production values -- okay, i guess low budget in 1966 doesn't mean the same thing as low budget today, but the source sound is terrible, and the editing seems tossed off sometimes. He has three films in the Sight & Sound Top 50, and i haven't seen any of them yet -- maybe they will eventually help me understand why this guy is important...
½ September 27, 2012
It's a look into the mindset of 60s French youth, trying to figure out where to stand on sex, socialism, birth control, Vietnam, and American capitalism.
August 5, 2014
Very artsy and interesting in design. I wasn't a fan of the narrative so much as the efforts in place to deconstruct standard film style.The audio was real so there were traffic sounds and other conversations in the background to speak over. It was crazy to think about the clear and unrealistic audio we hear in modern films! The story skips around, but remains in chronological order, interspersed with quotes in interstitial frames. Scenes will focus on one person for 30-40 seconds as they engage in a conversation, giving the impression of seeing it from one's own eyes, even if it is unsettling not seeing the person asking the questions! The music was pretty catchy, when it had a chance to play for more than a few seconds. My rating is based on its importance to cinema as an art and not its entertainment value.I prefer some of the other Godard/Karina collabs.
½ July 27, 2014
The Frenchest Frenchness ever Frenched? Amid the chain-smoking, the socialist rants, the gratuitous yet irresistible shots of 1965 Paris...
You know, I say this a lot, but this film really captures the zeitgeist. This is France in 1965, the youth, the feeling...the closest thing to being there.
And, of course, being Godard in his prime, it's wildly creative, topical, witty and whimsical. Un charme.
½ July 13, 2010
My fav. Godard film. It has a vitality and brashness that still excites. Just cool, that's all. A lot of people whose opinions I respect hate Godard, and I think that's because he's been so imitated by so many for so long, it's nearly impossible to comprehend his artistic contributions as anything 'new'. A viewer of classic works from the past should practice placing themselves in the historical context in which the film was created. Difficult but more rewarding.
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