Friday, May 4, 2018

In Michel Hazanavicius' idol-toppling GODARD MON AMOUR, an "untouchable" gets touched

It was probably a good idea to have a relatively "mainstream" French director like Michel Hazanavicius (of the OSS movies and the Oscar-winning The Artist) be the one to make a movie about that French filmmaking icon Jean-Luc Godard. I mean, what has Hazanavicius got to lose? Something like this could ruin in perpetuity the reputation and maybe even the career of a French ''art' filmmaker. But by giving us a kind of mini-biopic of only a few years in Godard's life (the time when he claimed as his girlfriend one, Anne Wiazemsky,
whose memoir of those years this movie is based on) and then turning the result into more of a comedy than anything else, Hazanavicius (shown at right) has provided us an entertainment that at least cursorily explores the man and his ideas, politics and filmmaking.

While the resulting movie has already inflamed the hearts and minds of those who hold up Godard as some kind of filmmaking god (which gives TrustMovies yet another reason to remain an atheist), GODARD MON AMOUR (Le redoubtable, in its original French title) is mostly a smart take-down of a man who has been idolized and lionized just a little too long and hard.

As played -- very well, too -- by the ubiquitous French actor Louis Garrel, above, our Jean-Luc is shown to be smart, talented, and onto some genuinely ground-breaking cinematic stuff. Unfortunately, he is also petty, pompous, jealous and something of an overall twat. His determination to "change" (because of the current political/social situation), without realizing that the result of this change would produce neither better nor more accessible movies, seems to be the point of this Wiazemsky/Hazanavicius collaboration. (Or perhaps that's just my own opinion of this guy's career.)

In the role of Anne, the lovely Stacy Martin (above) does more than a credible job of creating an intelligent and lively young woman, greatly enamored of her famous man, who over time begins to see the feet of clay and cracks in the facade. In the supporting cast, Hazanavicius regular, the gorgeous Bérénice Bejo (below, right), takes the role the grounded best friend, and a number of other good actors fill out the more minor roles.

But the movie belong mostly to Garrel and a little less so to Martin, and both actors come through with colors flying. Garrel, in particular has the look, the attitude and the coldly withholding quality said to be Godard hallmarks. You can easily imagine, in fact, that the man we see here will turn into the man whom we never see in the recent Faces Places documentary because he refuses to answer the door to Agnès Varda and JR.

There's plenty of humor to be found in the film -- from Garrel's performance in general to Jean-Luc's near-constantly breaking eye-glasses and most of all in the evolution of his film theory from something individually helmed to a kind of nitwit collectivism.

Bonus treat: we also get a nice, long, and very impressive look at M Garrel, naked and full-frontal, which, for all I know may have really sent poor M. Godard around the bend, jealousy-wise. As I say, there's lots of good fun to be had here, and just as with that documentary made a few years back about J.D. Salinger, the critical response seems much more to do with "How dare you sully the reputation of such a great man?!" than with the quality and worth of the actual movie itself.

From Cohen Media Group, in French with English subtitles and running a just-about-right 107 minutes, Godard Mon Amour opened two weeks ago in our cultural capitals and today hits South Florida and elsewhere at art theaters near you. In Miami, look for it at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, and in Palm Beach County at the Movies and Delray and the Movies of Lake Worth.

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