Thursday, February 09, 2006

"He wondered if the world was becoming a dream or if a dream was becoming the world."

Last night I watched Jean Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders. I can't believe at 28 years old that this is the first Godard film I have seen. He is definately refered to as one of those major figures in film and an inspiration for many of the independent filmakers I enjoy today. Case in point; a week ago I talked abour Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels. In a review of that movie Roger Ebert compared Wong Kar Wai to Godard.

Onto the film. As far as the plot there really doesn't seem to be that much to this. The setting is Paris. Two guys meet a girl in English class, and find out her aunt has a great deal of money in the house, and that it isn't exactly securely guarded. They decide to enlist her help in stealing the money. But when two young guys and a beautiful girl and dreams of a better existence all colide their is bound to be complications. Both guys (Franz and Arthur) fall for the girl (Odile) who is wonderfully played by Anna Karina. However, at no point do you really see Franz and Arthur outwardly become enemies against each other. The primary focus is seemingly on the heist. The secondary focus is on Odile. Most of the time.

The mood of the film starts out a bit light. There are definately laughs to be had. And there are memorable scenes by the bucketload. Arthur wooing Odile in English class as the class is attempting to translate Romeo and Juliet. The three of our protaganists dancing together (maybe one of my favorite scenes i have seen in years, and shown in freeze frame above.) A "minute of silence" that takes forever. For me, TWO mentions of Indianapolis! Of course they were in reference to auto racing, but I don't mind that! And then there are narrative interludes. Godard uses these to perfection. About 15 minutes into the movie for instance, "A few random words for our late arrivals. Two boys, a beautiful girl, a bundle of money..."

Somehow, inspite of the laughs to be had, there is still at the same time a bit of melancholy that hangs over the film. Maybe it's because I never really believe that they will get away with it. Maybe it's the score. Maybe it's because I empathize with one of the guys that may not get all of Odile's affection. At one point, Godard uses a narrative interlude to tell us what Franz is thinking, "He wondered if the world was becoming a dream or if a dream was becoming the world." It's a phenomenal line. A phenomenal thought. It's hopeful and melancholy at the same time. I guess because of the uncertainty of his reality. If it is a dream, if he wakes up, what then? Does he abandon the dream and just go on living normally? Is normalcy without Odile? Does he try another robbery? I won't give away the films ending, except to say, it was not entirely what I expected.

I really, really liked this film. One sad thing about Netflix is that when you recieve these Criterion Collection DVD's you only recieve one of the two discs. Many great special features are usually on the second disc. I may need to get that disc as I think there was plenty of litterary references and many other jokes that may have gone over my head. Nonetheless, I did quite enjoy the film. Even though some may have been over my head, the characters are endearing and accessable, and you definately wind up caring for each of them. At the end there is mention of some continuing adventures, if these characters show up in another Godard film, I definately will see that as well.

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