Friday, June 16, 2006

A Woman is a Woman, d. Godard

I needed to take some time away from thinking about the World Cup yesterday. Que Cera cera. Or something. So, courtesy of Netflix I popped in A Woman is A Woman. I had alerady fully expected to enjopy this movie since it has my girlfriend Anna Karina in a staring role, and since I have yet to see any Godard films that I haven't enjoyed. And, unsuprisingly it lived up to my expectations.

It's a simple plot. Angela (Karina) is involved with Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) and wants a child. Emile however is not yet ready to do that. He then decides to call their friend Alfred (the incredible Jean-Paul Belmando) to see if he would sleep with her to get her pregnant. As we are told by narartion in words across the screen, "It is precisely because Emile and Angela love eachother, that everything will go wrong." So again, as was said by Godard's cinematographer Coutard a Godard film is about "the impossibilty of relationships or death."

But really, it's a comedy. It's an homage to musicals. Swelling bits of music at times overpower the dialogue. The chatracters make references to musicals. They act out numbers. They pose. They bow to the audience. They talk to the camera. It is insanely self concious. It is gloriously fun. It is joyful as hell. Micheal Legrand does the music, as he did in Band of Outsiders so you know that's covered well.

I can't imagine having seen this when it actually came out. It was Godard's third film. It's the first shot in color. It references other films including Breathless and two Truffaut films Jules and Jim and Shoot the Piano Player. At one point Belmando smiles to the camera mentioning his new friend Burt Lancaster. It's a film made by a filmaker and some actors who known they have made the big time, and can do more or less whatever they want. And they do, and thats what makes it a joy.

But beneath all that playfuillness is the actual story of the love triangle. Alfred has already told Angela he loves her. Numerous times. Much like Belmando's character in Breathless he oozes cool and insecurity. How do they pull that off? So when, Angela makes her decision, you have Emile wonder aloud to the camera whether this is "comedy or tragedy." It a total Godard moment, and it fits in with the rest of the film perfectly. As I am writing about it, I am realizing I liked it even more than I initially thought.

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