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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

The Formerly Fine Frenchman and His Bitsy Bright Bride

If all that writer/director Michel Hazanavicius really wanted to do was show off how much he appreciated the work of the famed French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, then I’d say congratulations are in order. The only problem is that a demonstration of appreciation for Godard’s work is not really enough of an idea make a 107-minute film with. This film is an imitation of Godard in aesthetic only, as the real Godard was a pioneer of political film, yet in “Godard Mon Amour,” Hazanavicius clearly has no message beyond “look what I can do.” To say that Hazanavicius has missed the point would be an understatement.

The story of “Godard Mon Amour” is little more than a tour through the life of Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel) in the late 60s, as poor reception of Godard’s latest film “La Chinoise” combined with his attempted involvement with the French student’s movement prompts the director to decide that every film ever made up to that point was trash, and it is now his duty to invent a new form of political cinema. Running parallel to this is the story of Godard’s short-lived marriage to the young actress Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin). Though the film is ostensibly adapted from the real life Wiazemsky’s book “Un an après” (One Year Later), in which the actress gives her account of their relationship, Hazamavicius’s version of Wiazemsky is far from a well-developed character. She likes Godard when he is nice, doesn’t when he isn’t, and about two-thirds of the way through the film she is arbitrarily given agency. To say that this film tells a story would be generous. A more accurate assessment would be to call it a montage of disconnected moments, some amusing, many poor. It is 1968, Godard gets married, then he is an asshole for about 90 minutes, then all of a sudden it is 1970 and he is getting divorced.

If there is one aspect of the film that does undeniably work, it is the performances by the two leading actors. Garrel is unwittingly charming in his speech and mannerisms, and Martin brings an unwarranted level of heart to a character who is just there to be there. Between the two of them, you might on occasion be deceived into thinking that you’re actually watching something worth watching. A few of the earlier scenes of Godard’s interactions with fans were legitimately good, particularly a panel he sits on before the premiere of “La Chinoise,” and a conversation he had with two women who approach him during a march. It’s a shame that moments like these had to be surrounded by such crass mediocrity.

As far as an attempt to imitate Godard’s visual style, “Godard Mon Amour” is, for all intents and purposes, a success, in that if you played both this and one of Godard’s own films next to each other with no audio and in a contextual vacuum I might think that they were done by the same man, but this success should not be lauded. Hazanavicius is clearly a mechanically talented director, in that he knows how to pull off the shots in his head, it’s just a shame that he doesn’t have any real ideas behind them.

“Godard Mon Amour” is a concept that I think most film studentsmyself includedhave probably thought about making. I guess no one ever told Hazanavicius that you weren’t actually supposed to make it. This film is a sad attempt at art by the most wannabe artist. If you want to learn about Godard, this film won’t teach you a thing, and if you want to see this film because you are a fan of Godard, just rewatch “Breathless” instead.

Rating: 4/10