Breathless - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Breathless Reviews

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½ July 6, 2016
I've gave this film a go after a late night chat with a film critic. "A must see", he said and knowing that it's featured on many lists I gladly went for it. Actually I've only seen "Goodbye to Language" before when it comes to Godard's films. Many of his films are on my "too see"-list but I started off with his first full lenght.

This film has a very fast paced tempo. Few moments to catch your breath here as the car robbery and cop killing takes place as the protagnist is getting ready to flea the country with his crush at the moment, the lovely Patricia Franchini - an American journalist.

Driven by dialogue, mostly about love or money it's almost exhausting to look at since it's always combined with jump-cuts and a hand-held camera. This is as far as I know the first film that fits the style of French New Wave. It's jump cuts - also a new style brought to life by this film, is the result of the director being forced to cut down the lenght of the film, so he shortened the film by cutting out - or basicly making transitions through different takes to make it shorter. It made it more intense and gave it a fresh look. He also made parts of the film after the shooting had taken place - planning stuff during the nights after shooting scenes. Later on it stand out like a very innovative film caused by it's production and editing. One of the most influential films ever made, actually.

So, it's important to travel back in time to get why the film is so well rated. I find it hard to give it more stars "just" because it's the father of jump cuts (even if other directors have used it before) that now are used everywhere. This is a nice story, very intensely told, and lovely presented. Fast paced and with some great and unusal photography. Pluses are given for it's music too.

7.5 out of 10 phat cigarettes.
½ July 1, 2016
It's kind of fun to watch Godard play with the form, but Michel has to be one of the most repulsively unpleasant protagonists I've ever come across in a movie, and not in an interesting way. I just don't want to spend time with these empty-headed posers, even while the movie they're posing in is kind of enjoyable.
May 28, 2016
Jean-Luc Godard's audacious debut is one of the films that started the French New Wave, and it has most of the directors from the New Wave associated with it - with the script written by François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette appearing in a cameo as the dead man on the street. Even director Jean-Pierre Melville, whose reporting style and use of real locations had a big influence on the New Wave, appears in a short scene where he's an author being interviewed by Patricia and other reporters.

Though not his best, Godard's 'Breathless' is his most famous and discussed film. Even after 50 years, it hasn't lost its vitality; it's interpreted in so many different ways. We all know that most of these New Wave directors (formerly critics at 'Cahiers du Cinema') wanted to shift away from the style and rules of Classic Hollywood, which most of the mainstream French films had adapted over the years. Godard tries to break these conventions and tries experimenting with various aspects of the film. Firstly, he casts Jean-Paul Belmondo, with his punched nose and unconventional looks (though quite charming), and Jean Seberg in a boy-cut tomboyish role, introducing her wearing a T-shirt and selling newspapers on the street (an intriguing and memorable intro). With regard to Patricia's character, though intended or not, the film did have quite a feminist undertone (much different from the female characters portrayed at the time). Other than this, the film mainly comprises of random conversations and a meandering plot. All these elements went on to reinvent Modern Cinema.

Godard believed that most of the mainstream films tried to seduce people with their fictional reality, tried to entertain them and make them forget the worries of their daily life; he said that's how capitalist systems kept their people happy and content. He wanted to defy establishment and authority, both in terms of film and politics; though this film is not as Marxist as his later films, it's certainly quite anarchist in nature and his contempt for capitalism is clearly visible. Just like Patricia wonders, "I don't know if I'm unhappy because I'm not free, or if I'm not free because I'm unhappy." With random jump-cuts in a single scene or characters looking/talking to the camera, Godard constantly reminds the viewer that they're watching a work of fiction, thus making us watch the film in a different light, evoking a higher level of consciousness and compelling us to interpret the film's intended meaning. He wanted to stress that none of it was real, and that the director has complete control of what's being shown on screen. The film circles-in twice (in the style of film noir), once pointing to almost nothing conspicuous (to draw the attention outside of the film), and the next time when Godard himself appears in a cameo as the informer, thus ingeniously highlighting the fact that it's Godard (the director) who's controlling the plot from within and outside of the film. Even when Michel shoots the policeman, the scene is shown in such a haphazard and unusual way; the scene is as detached from the event as the protagonist, highlighting the moral jumps he takes in the situation.

Though the New Wave directors were tired of the rigid style of Classic Hollywood, they were big admirers of Film Noir. Even in this film, Godard pays homage to it in various ways, whether it's the way Michel's admires and imitates Humphrey Bogart or the random circle-ins. Michel informs his identity with the tough-guy persona of Bogart's films, and the tragedy is that even when he decides/tries to escape such a life and identity, he's still pushed along the tragic fate of characters in such crime thrillers; he's stuck within it, there's no escape. And if we analyse both our characters, we realize they have none of the usual characteristics of a film hero or anti-hero; they are quite self-obsessed, amoral, aimless, so absorbed in the world of art (Michel in cinema, Patricia in literature), yet so oblivious to the world around them. Godard tries to highlight the absurdity of life without a political, philosophical or moral commitment.

The final scene is as alluring and mysterious as the rest of the film. Whether it's the statement that's said or the gesture of tracing the lips - both being carried forward and reinterpreted by different members in its chain of action.

Overall, let me state that 'Breathless' isn't a great film by itself; it's not even close to the brilliance and emotional resonance of Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" or Resnais' "Hiroshima Mon Amour", New Wave works which released the previous year. Other than a few captivating scenes and dialogues, most of the film is dull and boring; I wonder how dragging the original two-and-a-half-hour runtime might have been like. But the film is important for two reasons - the way it experimented with the format opened up new possibilities in cinematic storytelling, and it's the kind of film which offers such interesting interpretations and opportunities for discussion with other cinephiles.
May 15, 2016
Acossado ajudou a mudar muitos dos caminhos que o cinema tomaria na parte final do século XX.
½ May 7, 2016
Very decent classic. I made have not enjoyed it like most people, but I can see why the film is so iconic and important.
April 18, 2016
Breathless was a revolutionary film debut from Jean-Luc Goddard, and watching it after over five decades later, every shot and every scene demonstrates it hasn't lost an ounce of its influence or importance.
April 10, 2016
I don't know if I'm unhappy because I'm not free, or if I'm not free because I'm unhappy.
March 10, 2016
a perfect example of what has now become 'the french new wave' film movement
February 25, 2016
Did I miss something about this "masterpiece"? I found this movie very messy and very nonsensical.
February 23, 2016
It's a chaotic and relatively fun film, although the characters and not particularly edifying and the dialogue loses its way with boring scenes. It's a pretty narcissistic world, selling itself as cool and stylish. And so despite itself, it's a tragedy.
February 10, 2016
You jive with the jazzy style. It's smoking cool. You profess to the extremely romantic qualities of the French. And you leave it to Jean Luc-Goddard's imaginative crime thriller to break all the rules of the Hollywood norm. To captivate, and to shock, and to frustrate many, as it must have done, and done so well... What defines a movie? What defines an art form? And if there ARE any pre-conceived notion of what it means to make art in proper fashion- how the fuck can we shake things up??

In Breathless, a petty criminal and bold lover, Michel, is chased and hunted by the Police. As he manages to duck, dodge, and hide under their constant watch, he plots to make his get-way to Italy. His situation gets worsened by the fact that he's just fallen in love with a beautiful young American girl, Patricia, who's determined to be her own woman and find a career in Paris, where the Police are hot on Michel's tail. He'll have to steal her away, and win over her affections, before he's caught on the wrong side of the law.

Bold, daring, and highly creative. Breathless looks as though it could have been made yesterday, now; more than 50 some-odd years after it's initial wide-release. To imagine what it must have been like when it opened in cinemas... It must have been like a UFO sighting in western Kansas... or... It must have been Marty McFly doing Chuck Barry at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in Back to the Future. Don't you GET IT? Jean Luc-Goddard time traveled audiences to a future of movie making that was as fresh, and new, and exciting as we've ever managed to make it. Now, certainly, it's not the greatest film ever made. There's a time and a place for such a film, and it wasn't in France in the late 1950's. But it DID manage to pave an extremely large highway in which all Directors and auteur's of the art-form could have the freedom to do things the way they wanted. Freedom to break away from the dogma of the Hollywood industry- that had dominated movie making for nearly 30 years. All of that just plain ended with about 90,000 dollars or Euro or whatever and in just four weeks that it took to shoot! The results speak for themselves. And for a History lesson on cinema and a just damn good time, I encourage you to see Jean Luc- Goddard's "Breathless" yourself, and see what you make of it. Ooh La La.
January 17, 2016
Beyond all the cinematic breakthroughs and importance of this film the main thing that struck me while watching was how cool it is. From Jean Paul Belmondo as Michel, in his shades, hat, tie and tweed jacket to Jean Seberg with her short hair cut the film just breathes coolness and it's timeless.
January 10, 2016
Jean-Luc Godard's highly innovative debut film was groundbreaking for its age, and while it may not feel as novel today, it's certainly just as enjoyable as ever. Inspired by American crime dramas, but told through an unconventional narrative propelled by an adventurous editing style, Breathless is certainly weird, but it's plot is fully contiguous. The dialogue in the film still sparkles to this day, which references both pop-culture and high art, and the film sublimely blurs the divide between American and French culture like virtually no other existing film. The French New Wave didn't start here, but Godard certainly made the style a whole lot cooler!
½ December 20, 2015
If you ever learned where Spike Lee learned to make, rather not make, movies, it must have been from Jean Luc Goddard horrible pieces of junk. Mr. Goddard gives hope to amateur, and those aspiring to amateur - like Mr. Lee, film makers everywhere. He makes the worst home movies look like masterpieces. Besides choosing some of the worst actors ever to pollute the movie screen, like Mr. Belmondo and Ms. Seberg, Mr Goddard combines them with a pointless, mess of a story glorifying criminal activities at the expense of the rest of society, incredibly unartful cinematography, along with thumbing his nose at the paying audience's faces'. Considering some of the other propagandist garbage produced in Hollywood, it's no wonder Hollywood frequently looks back to Mr. Goddard's horrendous work. Mr Goddard's work reinstills in me the belief that a campaign to recycle many of these movies into something useful, like plastic shopping bags, s much needed.
December 13, 2015
Breathless was an interesting movie. It was light, casual and improvisational, sort of like a hipster French movie. The pace slowed at points, but the characters are intriguing and the plot is interesting enough.
½ December 7, 2015
What can you say about 'A bout de souffle' (Breathless) that hasn't already been said? Criticizing this film is like criticizing Picasso's Ladies of Avignon...even if you have a point, you'll instantly expose yourself as a dilettante.

But what I really, /really/ like about this film is how prescient Godard was with what his audience wanted to see. Not knowing anything about what was going to happen, it is as if he could predict what you wanted to see before he actually showed it to you. You see a quirky young woman selling papers, and you wish you could see her make love...and she does! The constant refrain makes watching this film somewhat hypnotic. You see it all, but you see it all in about as easy a fashion as can be expected.
December 6, 2015
Breathless has the proportions wrong. Too much rambling, too little point.
November 4, 2015
Breathless is a French new wave film that is interesting in the way portrays its characters and their daily struggles, but the film suffers from its "unique" style of editing.
½ October 26, 2015
I love French cinema, I love France, I really love The French. I did watch with an open mind. But this is just a piece of tripe. The dialogue was childish, the acting high school, and the directing was student YouTube quality. But, one has to wait for the absolutely hysterically funny death scene ending. It was so poorly actied and directed, I was bellied over sideways laughing so hard. Please, you have to watch this movie just to kill the myth that this is a classic. The more people who see it, the more the myth will disappear.
October 16, 2015
One of those movies that you need to see at least once. Godard is one of the fathers of modern cinema, and Breathless is one of the biggest catalysts that influenced it's formation. Whether or not you find this movie interesting is beside the point. It's commendable simply due to how it challenges every convention in film up to that point. Jump cuts abound, and 4th walls come tumbling down. Whenever you see a movie become self-aware of itself, you can thank Godard, and Breathless. For me, it's self-awareness is what makes it so enjoyable, and cool for me. The couple in this movie are like the first instances of "hipsters". Everything about this movie is sexy, and awesome. Now, I need to fully catch up on my Godard.
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