Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Woman is a Woman

It may be true that I fell in deep film love with Anna Karina during Band of Outsiders, but if anyone really wants to see a film that Anna Karina just takes over entirely it must be A Woman is a Woman.

Truthfully, I had an awful week, and I just wanted to smile a lot and laugh, so I decided that last night at the end of my shift at Barnes and Noble that I would go ahead and purchase A Woman is a Woman and watch it after the end of the strangest, but higly entertaining World Series.

It's really impossible to catch the essence of A Woman is a Woman in just a few paragraphs. It was Godard's 3rd film. His first shot in color. His second with soon to be wife Anna Karina. It's a musical. It's a neo-realist musical. It's breaks all the rules of musicals. It pays homage to musicals. It's a tragedy. Or a Comedy. It's a masterpiece.

Angela (Karina) wants very badly to get pregnant. Her man at the time Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) will have not have any of it. he's a bicycle racer. Champion cyclists are slower after their wives pay visits. So, she, on Claude's urging turns to their friend Alfred played perfectly by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Alfred has been in the film since the beginning and makes no secret of his affection for Angela. It is because Angela and Emile love eachother that everything will go wrong.

The musical aspect of this film comes and goes. Godard uses the template of a musical to play with sound throughout the film. Random bursts of song out of nowhere, seemingly having no real dramatic meaning. The actors wink, bow, and talk to the camera. Godard and his actors have all reached the level of celebrity by this point, so the actors reference Godard's previous films, films of Truffaut, and their own celebrity throughout. It's incredibly self concious, and fun as can be all the way through.

And yet, as strong as Brialy and Belmondo are the film belongs to Karina. She became pregnant during the production of the film, and eac shot Godard and cinematographer Raoul Coutard frame of her seem to be handled with the greatest care. She dances around the apartment. She cries, she laughs, she recites poetry, she sings, she stripteastes, she holds two men in her grasp. She's perfect throughout and never hits a false note.

A Woman is a Woman is incredibly romantic yet cynical as can be. Some could see it as painting women as unsure, simple minded, and maybe even dishonest. Some could see it as a total homage to woman, and specifically even maybe a valentine from Godard to Karina. I don't know that they have to be mutually exclusive. It's romantic and cynical. Optimistic and pessimistic. A comedy and a tragedy. It's a masterpiece. It's about as fun as film gets.

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