Godard Mon Amour
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Micha Lescot, and Bérénice Bejo
Trying to understand the mind of an artist, of almost any capacity, is a difficult task. Art is subjective and the determination of whether the artistic creation is worthy of praise can be contentious ground. Film critics, on a weekly basis, provide criticism of the artistic digital medium that is used for both pure entertainment and philosophical engagement. And everyone is right, even when they are wrong, no matter what their opinion is, because art is subjective and the connection an artist makes with their creation is a complicated vessel. This aspect is one of the primary reasons art is so beautiful and why the artist is so fascinating.
Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, also a film critic in his early career, is one of the masters of cinema and an icon of the French New Wave form of filmmaking. Godard’s catalog is littered with masterpieces, “Contempt”, “Breathless”, “Weekend”, “Alphaville”, “Pierrot le Fou”, and “Band of Outsiders” are just a few of the classics. But the filmmaker, now in his late 80’s, has never stopped utilizing the film medium to express his passion for politics, America, racism, media, religion, and numerous other themes; in fact the director has a film coming later this year. Mr. Godard is an artistic force; defiant, arrogant, confident, compassionate, romantic, stubborn, eccentric; all the terms used to describe the complicated yet also the captivating aspects of art.
Filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, who directed the Oscar winning film “The Artist”, tackles the complex artist in the new film “Godard Mon Amour”. This film is less about the highlights of Godard’s career and more about the few years when the director was transitioning away from the popular dramas and comedies that had come to define him and more towards films dealing with the uprising happening around the world.
Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel) is living in Paris in 1967, he is idolized by critics, intellectuals, and movie fans for the films that made him an international film icon. During the filming of “La Chinoise”, a film detailing the political tract of Maoism, Godard falls in love with actress Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin) who is sixteen years younger than the director. Anne admires Jean-Luc, she’s as much of a fan of the artist as she is desperately in love with him. As the revolution happening around them begins to consume Jean-Luc, Anne becomes less of a priority.
“Godard Mon Amour” is at times a fascinating and frustrating experience. Godard is an intriguing character study, an artist struggling with the foundation that has come to define his artistic work while also breaking free of preconceptions and making an impact with the artistic tools at his disposal. Calling Godard eccentric is an understatement, the director understands that he was instrumental in revolutionizing cinema and his focus on starting another revolution will not be challenged by any barriers, person or otherwise. This makes Jean-Luc a difficult personality, he seemingly despises anyone who brings up his past work, argues with his critics in public forums, and ridicules his girlfriend Anne when she is not worshipping at his feet.
Actor Louis Garrel is provided the unenviable task of portraying all of this emotion and angst, his performance is over-the-top in argumentative moments yet subdued with glances and glares during moments of self-examination. Stacy Martin plays Anne and does a worthy job of keeping pace with Mr. Garrel, her performance shines brightest in moments when it is just the couple exploring the outlets of their relationship. In one of the best scenes Ms. Martin speaks volumes with her body language during a disastrous car trip.
Godard fans may find frustration with some of the simplistic, lighthearted bits concerning the character composition of the director. While the film is based on the book “Un An Après” written by Anne Wiazemsky during her time with Godard, some of the aspects just never hit the mark. Moments of comedy and drama playing together feel forced and some of the stylings concerning the filmmaking elements, which tries to emulate some of Godard’s more unique touches, comes off pretentious. Conversations about the exploitive nature of nudity while two characters are nude doesn’t connect the way it should and aspects concerning the struggle of the artist, which could have propelled this film into something more meaningful, are never completely examined.
“Godard Mon Amour” may be a treat for those new to the auteur, but those familiar with the works of the cinematic groundbreaker will be left wanting to revisit the original works from the acclaimed director. That may not be a bad outcome.
3.00 out of 5.00