Welcome to a semi-autobiographical tale by Jean Luc Godard. One of the principal actors is indeed Godard himself (Jacques Dutronc). It's a multiple plot tale, revolving around the central theme of failed relationships. That of his on and off again girlfriend (Nathalie Baye) , his ex-wife (Paule Muret) and daughter (Cécile Tanner) and a one-night stand with a prostitute (Isabelle Huppert). It was hailed as his return to linear storytelling (being his other films can be quite esoteric). But it is still classic Godard with some outrageous dialogue (with the Italian car attendant) and unsettling frank discussion about entering prostitution (Huppert and Anna Baldaccini) being just two examples.
The cinematography adds to the film's mystic, periodically having "slow motion" shots to illustrate loneliness and desperation sometimes met in life. The surprisingly strong performance of Huppert not as a femme fatale but that of a dispassionate woman trying to just make ends meet. Dutronc does a good job of being a man trapped in misery trying to end the cycle of failed relationships, while a brief but all too real performance of Paule Muret and Cécile Tanner were scene stealers. Nathalie Baye does give a strong performance as the "other woman" or "wronged lover" role, trying to move on literally (her ex-lover is taking forever to rent out their former love nest). Figuratively (most shots she is alone, e.g: long biking, walking shots, her moving out the country, away form the city). She even tries desperately to seduce her photographer friend (Michel Cassagne) who ends up finding her repulsive.
Carefully crafted we find how all of these multiple plot points coalesce into a linear denouement that is abrupt but also gives a bittersweet conclusion to to this menagerie of lost souls. With everything said and done this might be one of my favorite yarns spun by Mr Godard. It's uncluttered design both intrigued me and kept me watching. While being a more conventional story it also gives the audience "shock factor" in ways that thickens the plot with twists and turns similar to Nathalie Baye's bicycle in the French countryside. There is once again no small scene in the masterstroke by Jean Luc Godard.
After many celebrated movies directed by Jean Luc Godard, he decided to make an avant-garde film, and boy! Is it ever trippy!
The story is about a bourgeoisie parisian couple trying to get to Oinville in order to hear a will on the weekend. What we find out throughout the film is that it is set in dystopian future, where the French Revolution and Communism prevail. While everyone spouts fraternal love and the prevailing proletariat. There is mercy, love, friendship or even sense of society, it's just a breakdown.
The lush countryside is spotted while horrific traffic accidents, bloody bodies lying everywhere. People cannibalize, murder and beat up others over trivial things. The thought was great, but the action carried out in this film falls short. I do think this film gave Godard the enfant terrible moniker and was a brave attempt to try something different. It was a learning curve that helped Godard grow as a director, without it, we might never have been blessed with his future masterpieces.
All in all, between the traffic scene (15mins) and aimless killing with shock factor and the bizarre film denouement. I thought is was worth a one time film viewing and left my stomach in knots. It is a haunting film that will have a place in the pantheon in the history of cinema.
While I had high hopes for this film, if fell flat, from beginning to end. The apt acting on of Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley, Kathryn Bigelow and Josh Lucas (modern day love triangle) kept the story movie flowing and wanted me to finish it. I feel the acting of Sarah Polley (best of), Ciaran Hinds, Katrin Cartlidge and Vinessa Shaw was also very good, gave the feeling of self-isolation as well as the obvious isolation of living on a big rock (olden days love triangle).
Not to spoil the story line, which I felt it was very jumbled and unimaginative. A soon-to-be writer (Bigelow) and her famous poet husband (Penn) decide to take a "workation" with his brother (Lucas) and his current girlfriend du jour (Hurley) on his sloop racer. They travel off the coasts of New Hampshire to a small group of islands (the Shoals) in order to study an 1873 murder case that took place there. As well as I could have guessed, art imitates life with tragic consequences.
I do realize it is based on fact, somewhat on the old 19th Century murder case. But I feel that the film overstepped it's bounds with a denouement that was a true deus ex machina which I felt cheated (both in the modern and olden times stories). Overall, the film was trying to be daring and bold, while having some good scenes and dialogue, it was too opaque and really didn't deliver what it promised.
A weekend relationship that isn't all but sure is immense in stature and feel. Andrew Haigh directs what should be considered a monumental work for the gay male community in what is love and missed connections. It shows that even with all the sexual freedom, there is a price of loneliness and longing in this NSA (no strings attached) world.
For Russell (Tom Cullen) his unexpected finding of kismet in Glen (Chris New) is both real but unexplainable, à propos to real life. Russell, is gentle, quiet and brooding while Glen is outspoken, possessing Radical Faeriesque qualities. While the weekend progresses we find out the truth behind Glen's rejection of relationships. Why Russell writes down about his sexual experiences is hardly erotic but saddening, for surely making me teary-eyed. The second to final scene is heart-rending good acting and cinematography. The film does end with hope surprisingly, in which Russell finds contentment and has opened his eyes on what love can and should be.
The supporting actors (Jonathan Race, Laura Freeman, Johnny Wright & Loretto Murra) give small but strong performances in addition to Cullen and New. All in all, this film, with it's superb acting feeling more like a documentary than acting, I highly recommend this movie not only the gay world but also the straight.