My Life to Live (It's My Life) (Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux) Reviews

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Aug 04, 2018

    There is a bleakness to this movie, which has a pretty and thoughtful young woman (Anna Karina), living in beautiful Paris, and yet descending into prostitution following a break-up. Director Jean-Luc Godard gives us twelve vignettes that are intentionally simple and unassuming to paint the picture. It's worth seeing, but at least for me, there are better French New Wave pictures, and certainly less depressing ones. Anna Karina is lovely but I don't think she delivered a lot of range in this performance. One major exception early on in her new job is when she desperately tries to avoid a customer's kiss on the mouth. The look in her eyes as she squirms around is heart-rending, and disabuses us of any ooh-la-la fantasies we may have about her in this role. Another nice scene is when she dances to a jukebox song with awkward cuteness, trying to entice the few men watching her. To his credit, Godard is unflinching in his honesty, and there is no sentimentality here. I loved the thoughtful scenes, the one where she's in the theater watching the 1928 Carl Theodor Dreyer film 'The Passion of Joan of Arc', and then later picking an older man's brain about philosophy in a café. The street scenes in Paris were nice to see, though sometimes the film comes close to descending into a home movie project. Godard was making a point about the realities of life, and employing new filmmaking techniques while telling the story. It doesn't always make for great entertainment though, such as the section that's almost a mini-documentary on prostitution in Paris at the time. The ending is also ridiculously abrupt; it is a grand statement but to me borders on pretentiousness. Is it over-compensating for not showing some of the more painful aspects of prostitution along the way? (STD's, being beaten up, being degraded, etc?). Until then, with the exception of the attempted kiss scene, the 'insight' we get is mostly just a beautiful model being bored by her tricks. From Godard, I much preferred 'Masculin Feminin' (1966), so if you're new to him, I would start there instead. You may also try the Truffaut film we see on the marquee of a theater towards the end, 'Jules and Jim' (1962), which was a nice little tip of the cap to his fellow director.

    There is a bleakness to this movie, which has a pretty and thoughtful young woman (Anna Karina), living in beautiful Paris, and yet descending into prostitution following a break-up. Director Jean-Luc Godard gives us twelve vignettes that are intentionally simple and unassuming to paint the picture. It's worth seeing, but at least for me, there are better French New Wave pictures, and certainly less depressing ones. Anna Karina is lovely but I don't think she delivered a lot of range in this performance. One major exception early on in her new job is when she desperately tries to avoid a customer's kiss on the mouth. The look in her eyes as she squirms around is heart-rending, and disabuses us of any ooh-la-la fantasies we may have about her in this role. Another nice scene is when she dances to a jukebox song with awkward cuteness, trying to entice the few men watching her. To his credit, Godard is unflinching in his honesty, and there is no sentimentality here. I loved the thoughtful scenes, the one where she's in the theater watching the 1928 Carl Theodor Dreyer film 'The Passion of Joan of Arc', and then later picking an older man's brain about philosophy in a café. The street scenes in Paris were nice to see, though sometimes the film comes close to descending into a home movie project. Godard was making a point about the realities of life, and employing new filmmaking techniques while telling the story. It doesn't always make for great entertainment though, such as the section that's almost a mini-documentary on prostitution in Paris at the time. The ending is also ridiculously abrupt; it is a grand statement but to me borders on pretentiousness. Is it over-compensating for not showing some of the more painful aspects of prostitution along the way? (STD's, being beaten up, being degraded, etc?). Until then, with the exception of the attempted kiss scene, the 'insight' we get is mostly just a beautiful model being bored by her tricks. From Godard, I much preferred 'Masculin Feminin' (1966), so if you're new to him, I would start there instead. You may also try the Truffaut film we see on the marquee of a theater towards the end, 'Jules and Jim' (1962), which was a nice little tip of the cap to his fellow director.

  • Apr 26, 2018

    Every shot choice every camera movement every edit decision. Perfection.

    Every shot choice every camera movement every edit decision. Perfection.

  • Feb 14, 2018

    This fascinating film explores a prostitute's life. Its exploration of how men and women perceive one another is made more stark by the experimental use of sound and lengthy dialogue. Its obscurity undermines 'watchability' at times.

    This fascinating film explores a prostitute's life. Its exploration of how men and women perceive one another is made more stark by the experimental use of sound and lengthy dialogue. Its obscurity undermines 'watchability' at times.

  • Oct 07, 2017

    This proved to be more entertaining than most French movies. Especially the part where Anna's dancing in the billiards room and the guy does an impression of a kid blowing up a balloon. With every French movie that I watch, I understand more and more why it's so easy to parody French films. The ending took a weird turn of events. And the whole Philosophical conversation, I was hoping for it to finish the sooner the better. Overall, the movie is like every other French film, only this one was a little more interesting.

    This proved to be more entertaining than most French movies. Especially the part where Anna's dancing in the billiards room and the guy does an impression of a kid blowing up a balloon. With every French movie that I watch, I understand more and more why it's so easy to parody French films. The ending took a weird turn of events. And the whole Philosophical conversation, I was hoping for it to finish the sooner the better. Overall, the movie is like every other French film, only this one was a little more interesting.

  • Sep 02, 2017

    Nana, a woman in Paris is having some trouble in her life. It's not going anywhere. We observe her slow steps towards prostitution, divided into twelve short episodes. Each one stands out, makes a point or brings much to the story. I like the way of presentation, the twelve chapters, but also Jean-Luc Godard's technique. Is superb, even with todays standards. Many tricks are used, like the jumping together with the machingun shots and turned cameras. Muted scenes and 180 turns during conversations. It's incredible, really. Way ahead of it's time once again, in typical style from the gamechanger Godard is known as. Nice Plato talk near the end, solid conversation that was for me the most interesting part. Never struck me as an art film, really. Back then, maybe, but these days it's tricks is shining more as something to build a solid story. Cool soundtrack too, and a beautiful, Danish born girl in Anna Karina who was newly-wed to the director in this film. 8 out of 10 record shops.

    Nana, a woman in Paris is having some trouble in her life. It's not going anywhere. We observe her slow steps towards prostitution, divided into twelve short episodes. Each one stands out, makes a point or brings much to the story. I like the way of presentation, the twelve chapters, but also Jean-Luc Godard's technique. Is superb, even with todays standards. Many tricks are used, like the jumping together with the machingun shots and turned cameras. Muted scenes and 180 turns during conversations. It's incredible, really. Way ahead of it's time once again, in typical style from the gamechanger Godard is known as. Nice Plato talk near the end, solid conversation that was for me the most interesting part. Never struck me as an art film, really. Back then, maybe, but these days it's tricks is shining more as something to build a solid story. Cool soundtrack too, and a beautiful, Danish born girl in Anna Karina who was newly-wed to the director in this film. 8 out of 10 record shops.

  • Jun 19, 2017

    A beautiful film more interested in feel than intellectual understanding. That's not to say it's Lynchian or anything. It's a study in how humans interact, as told through a woman slowly descending into the depths of prostitution. Human relationships are necessary yet stunningly flawed, in that they both communicate the positive & the negative. This begs the question: is the good worth the unavoidable bad? Spirited cinematography, beguiling music, & entrancing performances fill this enriching experience.

    A beautiful film more interested in feel than intellectual understanding. That's not to say it's Lynchian or anything. It's a study in how humans interact, as told through a woman slowly descending into the depths of prostitution. Human relationships are necessary yet stunningly flawed, in that they both communicate the positive & the negative. This begs the question: is the good worth the unavoidable bad? Spirited cinematography, beguiling music, & entrancing performances fill this enriching experience.

  • Dec 09, 2016

    In his third feature, Jean-Luc Godard continued to playfully innovate with film form, even as he focuses on the economic plight of women that leads them to turn to prostitution. Godard's wife, Anna Karina, is (again) delightful and charismatic despite the circumstances of her character. She starts as a record shop assistant hoping to break into film but loses her apartment, tries (nude) modelling, and then runs into a friend who became a prostitute to support herself and her kids after a divorce and follows suit. Godard breaks the film into 12 parts (it is subtitled "film en douze tableaux") with brief intertitles announcing the content of the next section. As usual with Godard, the text is the thing and the characters chat away endlessly in interesting intellectual digressions; for example, later in the film, Nana (Karina) has a sit down with a French philosopher who argues that language is the basis for thinking. Karina references Sartre (particularly his concept of "bad faith") more than once (and the title itself points to existentialism methinks). Most stunningly, she goes to see Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) and tears up at the dramatic performance of Falconetti (and her giant shorn head in close-up). Godard also uses many close-ups of Karina (when he isn't showing us the back of her head, as he does frequently) and, as shot by Raoul Coutard (1924-2016) in black and white, the film (and Paris) looks overcast and beautiful. The end result is pretty exhilarating with Godard in the middle of his most entertaining period (before he became truly difficult and cryptic). Nevertheless, the film too will take some unpacking.

    In his third feature, Jean-Luc Godard continued to playfully innovate with film form, even as he focuses on the economic plight of women that leads them to turn to prostitution. Godard's wife, Anna Karina, is (again) delightful and charismatic despite the circumstances of her character. She starts as a record shop assistant hoping to break into film but loses her apartment, tries (nude) modelling, and then runs into a friend who became a prostitute to support herself and her kids after a divorce and follows suit. Godard breaks the film into 12 parts (it is subtitled "film en douze tableaux") with brief intertitles announcing the content of the next section. As usual with Godard, the text is the thing and the characters chat away endlessly in interesting intellectual digressions; for example, later in the film, Nana (Karina) has a sit down with a French philosopher who argues that language is the basis for thinking. Karina references Sartre (particularly his concept of "bad faith") more than once (and the title itself points to existentialism methinks). Most stunningly, she goes to see Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) and tears up at the dramatic performance of Falconetti (and her giant shorn head in close-up). Godard also uses many close-ups of Karina (when he isn't showing us the back of her head, as he does frequently) and, as shot by Raoul Coutard (1924-2016) in black and white, the film (and Paris) looks overcast and beautiful. The end result is pretty exhilarating with Godard in the middle of his most entertaining period (before he became truly difficult and cryptic). Nevertheless, the film too will take some unpacking.

  • Dec 02, 2016

    Episodic and moody drama which sometimes comes across as an information film on the life of ladies of the night. It's much more than that though and is an impressive art-house piece.

    Episodic and moody drama which sometimes comes across as an information film on the life of ladies of the night. It's much more than that though and is an impressive art-house piece.

  • Nov 23, 2016

    It took me the entire run time to buy into the format, but by the end, I was sold. The notable back light suggests that the protagonist is facing an unknowable darkness.

    It took me the entire run time to buy into the format, but by the end, I was sold. The notable back light suggests that the protagonist is facing an unknowable darkness.

  • Nov 06, 2016

    This is what they call "every frame a painting". Godard's filming and editing are superb and unconventional. He is giving away his influences in a beautiful way, too. A film that discusses social and emotional issues alike.

    This is what they call "every frame a painting". Godard's filming and editing are superb and unconventional. He is giving away his influences in a beautiful way, too. A film that discusses social and emotional issues alike.