Rainer's Review of Breathless
Ā Bout de Souffle is certainly one of the more refreshing and unusual films I've seen in a while. So much ahead of its time, that it still holds the aforementioned qualities and hasn't aged a day for the last fifty years.
It's both a love letter and an antithesis to American films especially the noir genre with its star Humphrey Bogart who is the role model for Jean-Paul Belmondo's Michel (Belmondo himself later became the French version of Bogey - typecasted in similar roles like this one in the emergence of the Nouvelle Vague).
Michel and Bogart not only share certain gestures and their attitude (although it's implied that Michel intentionally imitates him) but also their excessive chain-smoking habit.
Beside the characters and some of the narrative features, it doesn't have too much in common with classic noir though. It's a romanticized, yet pessimistic, version of a film noir - typically French in a way. More romance than thriller, it suits the beautiful Parisienne setting and the French way of life more than a straightforward crime story.
Jean-Luc Godard showed his talent in his feature debut, he created a stylish film with sharp dialogues and edgy characters. Along with perfect casting choices like the former amateur boxer Belmondo and angel-puss Jean Seberg there's not much to criticize about this debut.
Only, that it lacks some punch and thrills. It's not as tense as the title would suggest. Nevermind, I'm not sure if it aims for that anyways.