Every Man for Himself (Sauve qui peut (la vie))

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Sauve Qui Peut (la Vie), a pessimistic but visually stunning film, marks Jean-Luc Godard's return to cinema after having spent the 70s working in video. The film presents a few days in the lives of three people: Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc ), a television producer; Denise Rimbaud (Nathalie Baye), his co-worker and ex-girlfriend; and Isabelle Riviera (Isabelle Huppert), a prostitute whom Paul has used. Denise wants to break up with Paul and move to the country. Isabelle wants to work for herself instead of her pimp. Paul just wants to survive. Their stories intersect when Paul brings Denise to the country cottage he is trying to rent and Isabelle comes to see it without knowing that the landlord has been her client. The film is broken into segments entitled "The Imaginary," "Commerce," "Life," and "Music." Each of the first three sections focuses on one character and the last section brings all three characters together. This complex film is often closer to an essay than a story; it uses slow motion and experimental techniques to explore questions of love, work, and the nature of cinema. Sauve Qui Peut (la Vie) was Godard's first film with his frequent collaborator Anne-Marie Miéville, who edited and co-wrote the film. ~ Louis Schwartz, Rovi

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Isabelle Huppert
as Isabelle Riviera
Jacques Dutronc
as Paul Godard
Nathalie Baye
as Denise Rimbaud
Roland Amstutz
as Second Costumer
Anna Baldaccini
as Isabelle's Sister
Monique Barscha
as Opera Singer
Dore De Rosa
as Elevator Attendant
Roger Jendly
as Second Guy
Paule Muret
as Paul's Ex-Wife
Fred Personne
as First client
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Critic Reviews for Every Man for Himself (Sauve qui peut (la vie))

All Critics (3)

Audience Reviews for Every Man for Himself (Sauve qui peut (la vie))

  • Mar 22, 2011
    Jean-Luc Godard's "Every Man for Himself" is intriguing, but not as essential as the director's early films. Lack of cultural context may be the key. His '60s work was stuffed with topical commentary on Paris street life and restless youth, but "Every Man for Himself" is just an insular tale of a few random urbanites. It was released in 1980 but, really, the script could have been written during any year. Regardless, the film's appeal mostly hangs upon a beautiful, blank-faced prostitute (Isabelle Huppert, whose character shares her name). Be patient: She doesn't enter until a half hour has passed. Isabelle is neither energized nor depressed by her unsavory job, and meets her appointments with all the passion of a housewife drying dishes. She's even game to let her younger sister into the racket -- well, as long as the sister has nice enough breasts and is willing to cut Isabelle a share of her profits. Isabelle is equally nonchalant about almost any perversion, whether it's incestuous role-playing, spanking or the strangest foursome choreography you've ever seen. The other storyline involves a couple who mostly function apart from Isabelle. Their tale is not so interesting, even though the male is provocatively named "Godard." This Godard (pop singer Jacques Dutronc) is emotionally aloof, works in television and has a child via an estranged wife. He's also on the brink of losing a relationship with a film editor (Nathalie Baye) who likes to bicycle rather than drive. She has an earthy sensuality but Godard, hidden behind a shaggy haircut and oversized glasses, is an unlikable cipher. Eventually, the two intersect with Isabelle. Director Godard's usual tricks abound, jabbing the audience to notice the artifice of cinema. Title cards appear, dividing the film into four vague sections. Characters notice the non-diegetic music, and one shot where a string section appears onscreen almost recalls the absurd Count Basie cameo in "Blazing Saddles." Jerky, slow-motion moments keep intruding for little discernible reason (a late example does save the need for a stunt man). And dialogue repeatedly overlaps across scenes -- in other words, a conversation lingers on the soundtrack after the visual setting jumps elsewhere. There's even a quick in-joke pointing out how movie vehicles typically lack a rearview mirror. "Every Man for Himself" was Godard's return to narrative film after several years of thorny experimentation. His peculiar genius remains evident, but seems a bit diffused.
    Eric B Super Reviewer

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