Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:04 am 
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MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS: GODARD MON AMOUR/LE REDOUTABLE (2017) - SFIFF

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LOUIS GARREL, STACY MARTIN IN GODARD MON AMOUR

A film not clever enough for its subject

Michel Hazanavicius is noted for his pastiches of films - the one made up of reimagined bits of old silents, The Artist, did very well - though his earlier pastiches of a French James Bond, "OSS 117" never made it to anglophone audiences and his stab at seriousness, a story about Chechnya, The Search, bombed.

This time he's back to the semi-serious mode with a film about Jean-Luc Godard and Anne Wiazemsky, the very young actress he was briefly married to in 1968, based on Wiazemsky's memoir about this experience. Godard, with Anne, participates in the May Paris student strikes and they go to the Cannes Festival, which is cancelled. The young demonstrators scoff at the director, and he eventually breaks up with Anne. Louis Garrel and Stacy Martin look great and are quite adequate as Godard and Anne.

What is Hazanavicius trying to do here? Well, pastiches again, this time of the stylistic devices of Godard's most brilliant early pictures, and of course of his mannerisms and looks. Garrel is a good sport, and gets a slight chance to show off his gift for comedy, being uglied-up to look like Godard, and imitating his odd way of speaking. A mildly amusing tone of passive-aggressive homage is maintained. But it is surprising how uninteresting a movie about such people and such a time could be. Hazanavicius is good at pastiches and there are plenty of those . But that's all there is. There was a great deal more to this man and this time than what gets into Hazanavicius' film. What's glaringly absent is the brilliance of his subjct and the importance of the times.

Godard is still alive, and when he said this film was "a stupid, stupid idea," he was not far wrong. Assuming (which is doubtful) this film needed making, Godard himself would have been the one to do it.

Godard Mon Amour/Le Redoutable, 107 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2017; 19 other festivals. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. US theatrical release 20 Apr. Metascore 67%. Released in France Sept. 2017, AlloCiné press rating a fair 3.5, but lacking favorable comments from any of the hip journals.

Maybe the always contrarian critic Armond White had a point in his review in saying that for younger people who don't know Godard, this, though a bad movie, will at least have the virtue of arousing their interest in his genius. That's exactly what he says in his National Review piece. The film came to US theaters (Quad Cinema in NYC) 20 Apr. 2018 and will tour Landmark Cinemas. It comes to the UK 11 May.

Originally reviewed as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.

​SHOWTIMES SFIFF:
Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. at Victoria Theatre
Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 8:15 p.m. at BAMPFA


Quoted from A.O. Scott by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd: "Godard, for better and for worse, is a cinematic thinker, someone who has tried, over the course of a prolific and contentious career, to locate the philosophical potential and the intellectual essence of the medium, to make it a vessel for ideas and arguments as well as for stories, pictures and emotions. Mr. Hazanavicius is the opposite: an unmistakably skilled maker and manipulator of images and styles with nothing much to say and no conviction that anything needs to be said at all."

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