Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Two or Three Things I Know About Her

Written for the screen and directed by Jean-Luc Godard from an article by Catherine Vimenet, Deux ou Trois choses que je sais d’elle (Two or Three Things I Know About Her) is the story of the life of a housewife who works as a prostitute to support her family as they live in a high-rise building in Paris. The film is the study of a woman dealing with an increasingly consumerist world that demands so much as it’s a film that explore many themes marking the start of a transitional period for Godard. Starring Marina Vlady, Anny Duperey, Robert Montsoret, Raoul Levy, Jean Narboni, and Christophe Boursellier. Deux ou Trois choses que je sais d’elle is a compelling yet unconventional film from Jean-Luc Godard.

The film follows the life of a housewife who at night works as a prostitute to pay off simple things such as bills and grocery for her family as they live in a high-rise building in Paris that is becoming dominated by ideas of capitalism and American products. It’s a film that is really an exploration about the increasing demands of modernism in Paris where this woman is struggling to get by as she has to prostitute herself to support her family where her husband works in a garage and listens to a ham radio about the Vietnam War. The film doesn’t really have a traditional narrative that follows the life of Juliette Jeanson (Marina Vlady) as she would comment about her own previous life before she and her family moved to Paris in this high-rise. Yet, much of the film features images of products, pictures of the Vietnam War, American pop culture, and references to books and films as it’s quietly narrated by Jean-Luc Godard who comments about the story he’s telling but also his growing disdain towards what Paris is becoming.

Godard’s direction does have elements of style in some of the compositions he creates yet much of his presentation is simple and emphasizes more on what is happening in and around Paris as it is a major character of the film. While Godard avoids many of the city’s famous landmarks in favor of places that are being built to display this modern version of the city that features lots of shots of big cranes and bridges and buildings being built. Godard would use wide shots as well as create careful compositions through his narration to showcase this ever-changing world that is losing its identity in favor of this bright and colorful world of American pop culture. Even in a scene where Juliette and a friend in Marianne (Anny Duperey) are doing a job with an American client in John Bogus (Raoul Levy) who is wearing an American t-shirt and such as he makes the two wear airline shopping bags on their heads.

There are also these moments that does stray from Juliette’s story where her husband Robert (Roger Montsoret) is listening to his ham radio while he’s in a scene talking to another woman (Juliet Berto) at a restaurant where a couple of men are reading books and such that relate to the political climate of the times. There are also these moments in the film where the fourth wall breaks as the actors would talk or look in front of the camera to answer certain questions from Godard who films them in a close-up or in a medium shot. Even as it add to this blur of reality and fiction but also this atmosphere that Godard is in where one can’t help but be overwhelmed by these surroundings and vast imagery of American products rampant all over the city. Overall, Godard creates a whimsical yet haunting film about the life of a housewife who supports her family as a prostitute in an ever-changing Paris filled with consumerism and modernism.

Cinematographer Raoul Coutard does brilliant work with the film’s colorful cinematography that captures the vibrancy of the locations and its colors as well as maintaining a look that is full of wonders in its modernist setting. Editors Francoise Collin and Chantal Delattre do excellent work with the editing as its stylish usage of jump-cuts and montages play into this sense of overwhelming images of modernism and a world where money and products become king. Costume designer Gitt Magrini does fantastic work with the costumes in the design of the dresses that the women wear as it add to the personality of the characters but also this pressure to be part of society because the clothes are what is fashionable. The sound work of Antoine Bonfanti and Rene Levert is terrific for its naturalistic approach to the sound as it add to this atmosphere of confusion and uncertainty while much of the film’s music soundtrack mainly features a classical piece by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

The film’s wonderful cast feature some notable small roles from Christophe Boursellier and Marie Boursellier as Juliette and Robert’s children, Juliet Berto as a young woman Robert talks to at a restaurant, Jean Narboni as a friend of Robert, Raoul Levy as an American client named John Bogus, and Anny Duperey as a young prostitute in Marianne who also deals with the demands of sex to support her own lifestyle. Roger Montsoret is superb as Juliette’s husband Robert as a mechanic who works at a garage to support his family as he becomes concerned with the state of the world including the Vietnam War. Finally, there’s Marina Vlady in an incredible performance as Juliette Jeanson as a housewife who copes with the increasing demands of her family’s new environment forcing herself to become a prostitute where she also deals with existential questions and such relating to her situation.

Deux ou Trois choses que je sais d’elle is a sensational film from Jean-Luc Godard. Featuring a great cast, Raoul Coutard’s vibrant cinematography, and its themes of Paris becoming modernized and driven by the ultra-consumerist world of American capitalism. It's a film that explore the life of a woman who is struggling to keep with the demands of modern society as the film would also mark a transitional period for Godard from straying from the conventions of traditional narratives in favor of exploring themes of politics and social issues. In the end, Deux ou Trois choses que je sais d’elle is a phenomenal film from Jean-Luc Godard.

Jean-Luc Godard Films: All the Boys Are Called Patrick - Charlotte et Son Jules - A Bout de Souffle - The Little Soldier - A Woman is a Woman - Vivre sa Vie - Les Carabiniers - Contempt - Bande a Part - A Married Woman - Alphaville - Pierrot Le Fou - Masculin Feminin - Made in U.S.A. - La Chinoise - WeekendSympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) - (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 2019

1 comment:

Brittani Burnham said...

This sounds very intriguing. Great review!