Breathless (1961)



Critic Consensus: Breathless rewrote the rules of cinema -- and more than 50 years after its arrival, Jean-Luc Godard's paradigm-shifting classic remains every bit as vital.

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Enjoy brunch in the Torpedo Room before screening BREATHLESS hosted by John DeSando and Johnny DiLoretto. There was before BREATHLESS, and there was after BREATHLESS. Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the film scene in 1960 with this jazzy, free-form, and sexy homage to the American film genres that inspired him as a writer for Cahiers du cinéma. With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, anything-goes crime narrative, and effervescent young stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, BREATHLESS helped launch the French New Wave and ensured that cinema would never be the same.
R (for some bloody violence)
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Jean-Paul Belmondo
as Michel Poiccard/Laszlo Kovacs
Jean Seberg
as Patricia Franchini
Daniel Boulanger
as Police Inspector
Liliane David
as Minouche
Liliane Robin
as Minouche
Van Doude
as Journalist
Claude Mansard
as Claudius Mansard
Michel Fabre
as Plainclothesman
Henri-Jacques Huet
as Antonio Berrutti
Jean-Luc Godard
as Informer
Richard Balducci
as Tolmatchoff
Roger Hanin
as Carl Zombach
Jean-Louis Richard
as Journalist
Francois Moreuil
as Cameraman
Philippe de Broca
as A Journalist
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Critic Reviews for Breathless

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (17)

With the appearance of Breathless, we have a film that is new, aesthetically and morally.

Full Review… | December 3, 2015
The New Republic
Top Critic

Breathless jumps to its own rhythm and pokes holes in its idols even as it worships them.

August 19, 2010
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

On its fiftieth birthday Breathless remains fresh and exciting, although its revolutionary approach has long since been absorbed into the mainstream, and the years do show on it a bit.

Full Review… | August 4, 2010
Top Critic

Even 50 years later, it's easy feel how vivid a game-changer Breathless must have been when it arrived.

July 16, 2010
Denver Post
Top Critic

This movie liberated the cinema -- the stories you could tell and the ways you could tell them -- as clearly and cleanly as Picasso freed painting and the Sex Pistols rebooted rock.

Full Review… | July 14, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Breathless has the proportions wrong. Too much rambling, too little point.

Full Review… | July 8, 2010
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Breathless

A landmark in cinema history, due mostly to revolutionary editing techniques, pop culture references, and a biting undercurrent of intellectualism.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

What became the French New Wave movement started with this debut from fledgling director Jean-Luc Godard, a man who has changed perspective, and the minds of his audience, since this first film appeared on the scene. Cobbled together with a small budget, with little time, and no experience, it doesn't meet the traditions of classic Hollywood films, but still retains an authenticity unrivaled throughout time. What this film really embodies in sentiment, is that it's cool. Even the characters are alternative, since one is a sex obsessed gangster with a penchant for showy gestures and little conviction, and the other is a pixie haired student, intent on being free and unburdened. They don't seem to have the same ire for traditional constructs as Hollywood heroes and heroines of the past. Throw in chase scenes, sex, jazz, and rough editing and shooting and this film is the epitome of new and smooth. Even though I didn't fully understand the New Wave movement before I saw this film, I immensely enjoyed how vibrant this film was. It really is the first instance of a director not caring about the constraints of filmmaking, and just makes a film that embodies new ideals and tries to tell a story without the problems of plot or structure. For anyone who wants to watch a film that feels timeless in many ways and yet very classic, this is the film for you.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

"Breathless" is the perfect definition of Romance and Thriller, because the entire time, you are wondering if the accusations are real, even though you kind of know that they are. I loved every second of this film, because it was the beginning of the era that sparked the romance/thriller genre. I do believe that reoccurring moments throughout this film really hold up, and the physical signature that the main character gives after he smokes his cigarettes or is around his lady, is very memorable. This is one of the best classics I have seen, and the plot thickens as the film progresses. Although it shows it's age at times, making many jump cuts, it is forgivable when you are immersed in this incredibly told story. What a film!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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