Sunday, January 8, 2012


It is a vindictive and unpleasant film, representing Jean-Luc Godard at his angriest and least playful. It starts as gentle as it's ever going to get, with an unhappily married couple travelling out of town to care for a sick relative (mainly to ensure their presence in his will). They encounter increasingly violent and chaotic conflict en route (including a memorable traffic jam that seems to stretch for miles), until they wind up in the middle of several revolutions from which their material comforts are no longer any defense.

A friend I saw it with said that it was the closest Godard's come to making a horror film, and I can't disagree. It's as pissed off a response to capitalism as anything this side of von Trier - it's like Godard imagined his fellow Frenchmen becoming Americans, and pursued the fancy to its logical ends. Perhaps to one observing the French middle class in the mid- to late-1960s such a notion wasn't too much of a stretch. Sadly, Godard's misanthropy extends to the revolutionaries who take over the final reels of the film, who are depicted as assholes at best and cannibalistic rapists at worst. Such vivid anti-humanism only dilutes his polemics - you can feel Godard's contempt for not being able to name the authors of the texts that his characters read from, word for word.

It's a film that makes Pasolini's Salò seem optimistic by comparison. At least there some sort of perverse love bloomed from the wreckage of the film (even if just two soldiers dancing in a clumsy embrace). Here a wife devours her husband's flesh and asks for seconds. Godard offers no comfort here, or any solutions. The film, in the end, comes off as petulant and childish as his fight choreography.

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