The output of legendary nouvelle vague director Jean-Luc Godard was the epitome of cool between 1960 and ’67, during which time he made Breathless, Le Petit Soldat, Vivre sa vie, Les Carabiniers, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Masculin Feminin, La Chinoise and the legendary Weekend. But then came Godard’s militant Marxist period (’68 to late ’70s), during which he denounced his heyday flicks as bourgeois trash and devoted himself to revolutionary cinema. But when the familiar references to Hollywood genres and conventions began to fade from his films and as Godard became more focused on Maoist dogma and such, people stopped giving a shit.
So is Michael Hazanavicius‘ Redoubtable, a new Godard biopic, about the sexy cool period or the hardhead Marxist period? You have to ask? Of course it’s about the latter, and boy, does it embrace Godard’s bitter sniping and pissed-off, ultra-didactic radicalism! It really bores into that, and so the movie becomes as much of a drag to 2017 audiences as Godard himself became a drag to his once-loyal fans starting in ’68.
I just watched this Hazanavicius film earlier this evening so I should know. Redoubtable isn’t oppressively awful but it does make you feel profoundly irked at Godard (Louis Garrel) and his hammerhead bickering and general aversion to anything remotely soothing or pleasurable.
In the lead-up to the Cannes Film Festival debut of Redoubtable, the idea began to sink in that it’s about a mid ’60s love affair between director Godard and actress-author Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin). Well, it is that to some extent, but mostly it’s about how Godard’s frowning, screwed-down, butt-plugged revolutionary mentality began to decrease or suffocate whatever regard he might’ve once had for even a semblance of joie de vivre, and thereby destroyed his relationship with Wiazemsky.