Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Woman is a Woman

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard from an idea by Genevieve Cluny, Un femme est une femme (A Woman is a Woman) is the story of a cabaret dancer who is torn between her unwilling lover and his best friend in her attempts to have a child. The film is take on the American musical comedy genre with an ode to Italian neorealist cinema as it blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. Starring Anna Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Un femme est une femme is a majestic and witty film from Jean-Luc Godard.

The film revolves around a young cabaret dancer who wants to have a child but her boyfriend is reluctant as she turns to his best friend for advice. While it’s a film with a simple story, it plays into a young woman’s desire to get a new lease on her life as she believes having a child will be the first big step into adulthood. Unfortunately, her lover Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) isn’t keen on having a child as he wants to spend time doing his work and hanging out with his friend Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). It adds a lot of anguish to Angela (Anna Karina) who escapes through her love of books and musicals as Jean-Luc Godard’s screenplay play up this blur of neorealist ideals with this air of fantasy in scenes where Angela imitates musicals as well as what was happening in French cinema at the time. The script doesn’t have much of a structure as it relies more on Angela’s desire and the journey she would take to have a baby.

Godard’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of not just the sense of energy of the film but also in how he maintains a certain intimacy in some of the film. Most notably in some scenes that involve some anamorphic lenses for some of the camera pans that goes on in the apartment that Angela and Emile live in. Yet, much of the direction involve some unique close-ups and medium shots that subvert ideas of reality and fiction such as a moment where Angela and Alfred imitate certain choreography and movements that are typical of musicals. At the same time, Godard keeps thing simple in his compositions while being playful with some of the set-ups he create in the cabaret halls and streets of Paris where it has this sense of energy that goes on. Even to the point where it would play into the conflict in Angela over what is going through to define herself as a woman. Overall, Godard creates a whimsical yet engaging film about a woman’s desire to become a mother.

Cinematographer Raoul Coutard does brilliant work with the film‘s colorful cinematography with its Cinemascope film stock to capture the lushness of the colors while maintaining some realism in scenes set in the streets of Paris while playing with light for some of its interior scenes. Editor Agnes Guillemot does amazing work with the editing in creating some unique jump-cuts as well as some stylish rhythmic cuts for the musical moments as well as some of its dramatic moments. Production designer Bernard Evein does nice work with the set design from the look of the cabaret hall that Angela works at to the look of the apartment she and Emile live in. The sound work of Guy Villette is terrific with the sound to maintain something that is simple as well as play into the bits of chaos that occurs in the film. The film’s music by Michel Legrand is excellent for its score that is playful with its orchestral pieces along with some piano pieces from Charles Aznavour which plays as a film reference and such.

The film’s wonderful cast includes some notable appearances from Marie Dubois and Nicole Paquin as friends of Angela, Ernest Menzer as a bar owner, and Jeanne Moreau in a cameo as a woman at the bar. Jean-Paul Belmondo is fantastic as Alfred as Emile’s friend who has feelings for Angela but keeps it a secret so he wouldn’t hurt Emile while aware of how bad Emile is towards Angela. Jean-Claude Brialy is superb as Emile as Angela’s boyfriend who is aghast at the prospect of parenthood as he tries to reason with Angela as well as be immature in the way he handles things. Finally, there’s Anna Karina in an incredible performance as Angela as this cabaret dancer that is eager to become an adult as she copes with Emile’s treatment of her as well as the desire to become a mother as it’s one of Karina’s most lively performances.

Une femme est une femme is a remarkable film from Jean-Luc Godard. Featuring great performances from Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Jean-Claude Brialy as well as colorful visuals and a lively score. The film isn’t just one of Godard’s finest films as well as one of his most entertaining. In the end, Une femme est une femme is a sensational film from Jean-Luc Godard.

Jean-Luc Godard Films: All the Boys are Called Patrick - Charlotte et son Jules - Breathless - The Little Soldier - Vivre Sa Vie - The Carabineers - Contempt - Bande a Part - A Married Woman - Alphaville - Pierrot Le Fou - Masculin Feminin - Made in U.S.A. - Two or Three Things I Know About Her - La Chinoise - Weekend - One Plus One (Sympathy for the Devil) - (Joy of Learning) - (British Sounds) - Tout va Bien - (Letter to Jane) - (One A.M.) - (Number Two) - (Here and Elsewhere) - (Every Man for Himself) - (Passion) - (First Name: Carmen) - Hail, Mary - (Soft and Hard) - (Detective) - (King Lear (1987 film)) - (Keep Your Right Up) - (Nouvelle Vague) - (Allemagne 90 neuf zero) - (JLG/JLG - Self-Portrait in December) - For Ever Mozart - (Historie(s) de Cinema) - (In Praise of Love) - (Notre musique) - (Film Socialisme) - (Adieu au Language) - (The Image Book)

© thevoid99 2015


Dell said...

The only Godard film I've seen is Breathless which thoroughly underwhelmed me. This one sounds interesting, though.

thevoid99 said...

Godard isn't an easy filmmaker to figure out though this is one of his more accessible films though the unfortunate thing about it was that I watched a very old print of it which did deter the film a bit for me. The ones I would recommend to see are Bande a Part, Vivre Sa Vie and Contempt which I think are his best work.