"It’s post-modern, baffling and utterly hilarious"
From The Artist to an artist, Michel Hazanavicius, director of the Oscar winning black and white silent drama of 2011, once again looks at a filmmaker trying to find a voice. This time however, said voice is neither literal nor fictional but belongs to that of Jean Luc-Godard, pioneer of the French New Wave in Redoubtable, an entertaining, original if not entirely memorable sort-of biopic.
Hazanavicius takes his basis for the film from the memoir by Godard’s second wife Anne Wiazemsky, here portrayed by Stacy Martin. It tracks their relationship through a period of much revolution in France, examining Godard largely through her eyes.
Playing Godard is Louis Garrel and he is by far and away the best thing in the film. He paints the director as an infuriating, pretentious, intelligent, frustrating, obtuse and conflicted individual trying to work out his part in any political uprising, the role his films played in any such events and whether he should respect or defy any revolution. As a consequence, it can be argued that the film itself becomes conflicted in its portrayal but it’s important to remember the source and narrative structure. This is after all, told from the point of view of an actress who worked with Godard yet who was equally a wife who loved him for a period. It makes sense that her feeling towards him varied from anger to love via frustration.
Along the journey, Hazanavicius isn’t afraid to have some fun with the subject – there’s a great recurring motif regarding Godard’s iconic glasses, a meaningful visit to the cinema to watch Joan of Arc, a hilarious conversation with real meaning subtitles beneath the actual subtitles and a standout scene in which the two leads discuss unnecessary nudity in cinema – conducted with unnecessary full frontal nudity.
It’s post-modern, baffling and utterly hilarious. Whether the film really gets into the real Jean-Luc Godard is up for debate but then such a task may well be nigh on impossible for any filmmaker. What Hazanavicius does is tackle it from an original angle and like its muse has made a film which is amusing, original, odd and conflicted, if not quite as memorable as JLG himself.