Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, Tout va bien (Everything’s All Right) is the story of an American reporter and her has-been French New Wave filmmaker husband who go to a sausage factory to report on a strike that is happening. The film is an exploration of two people capturing a strike that is happening as it play into the events of May of ’68 in France as well as the many fallacies of revolutions in the aftermath of that event. Starring Jane Fonda, Yves Montand, and Vittorio Caprioli. Tout va bien is an intriguing though messy film from Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin.
Set four years after the chaotic events of May of ’68 in France, the film revolves around a has-been filmmaker and his American reporter wife who go to a sausage factory where it has been taken over by the workers as they’re locked inside the manager’s office with the manager. It is a film that explore this air of social and political chaos that is emerging in a factory with leftist workers trying to get better wages and such as they would humiliate the factory manager to show the shit they had to endure from him. The film’s screenplay doesn’t really have a straightforward narrative as much of its first two acts is set largely in the factory with glimpses of life outside of the factory for the filmmaker Jacques (Yves Montand) and his American wife Suzanne (Jane Fonda) in their occupations and married life. Even as they are locked in an office with the factory manager (Vittorio Caprioli) as there are scenes where there is narration as it play into what is going on with characters talking about their political and social situations.
The film’s direction from Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin is stylish in not just mixing documentary filmmaking style with a narrative style as there are scenes in the factory where it is shot inside a studio set. Notably as there’s this wide tracking dolly-shot where Godard and Gorin shoot the entire factory set from room to room as it plays into the sense of chaos but also people trying to figure out what to do next. There are also close-ups and medium shots that occur including a close-up in which a young woman (Anne Wiazemsky) talks about the demands of the workers but also a lot of fallacies into Leftist views as they would want more and more in a largely-capitalist society.
The direction also has these elements that play into these moments of chaos as it relates to the struggles of the working class and their disdain for the bourgeoisie through these brief breaks from the narrative yet the third act when Jacques and Suzanne are released from the factory is where things become really uneven. Notably as it play into what Jacques and Suzanne are doing and the compromises they make as it feels like it is part of something else with a scene late in the film in which Suzanne is in a market where it is this commentary on capitalism but there’s a man spouting communist rhetoric in the middle of the market while a bunch of young people are running around and announcing that everything in the market is free with police coming in to stop the chaos. It is a moment that is entrancing visually but its message into these clashing ideals ends up being all about nothing as it showcases the many fallacies of political ideals while it’s ending is really a non-ending in which the narrator speaks with a woman about how to end the film. Overall, Godard and Gorin craft a fascinating but uneven film about a filmmaker and his reporter wife trying to understand the social and political chaos inside a sausage factory.
Cinematographer Armand Marco does brilliant work with the film’s editing as it is largely straightforward to play into the film’s documentary-like tone but also with some vibrant colors for the interior scenes inside the factory. Editors Claudine Merlin and Kenout Peltier do terrific work with the editing as it has some jump-cuts to play into some the action and chaos while much of it is straightforward for some of the long shots in the film. Production designer Jacques Dugied does amazing work with the look of the interiors of the factory with great attention to detail in its stage-like setting. The special effects by Jean-Claude Dolbert and Paul Trielli do wonderful work with some of the film’s minimal effects as it play into the sets but also in the work that Jacques does. The sound work of Antoine Bonfanti and Bernard Ortion is superb as it is largely straightforward in the atmosphere of the factory and in the occupations that Jacques and Suzanne have in their lives.
The film’s excellent ensemble cast feature small roles from Eric Chartier, Castel Casti, Elizabeth Chauvin, and Hughette Mieville as factory employees rebelling against their boss, Louis Bugette as an old employee who talks about the conditions in the factory, Pierre Oudrey as a man working for the workers in getting their demands, Anne Wiazemsky as a Leftist woman talking in a monologue about the fallacies of the workers’ demands, and Vittorio Caprioli as the factory owner who is annoyed by the negotiation tactics as well as the humiliation of enduring the troubling working conditions his employees had to endure.
Yves Montand is brilliant as Jacques as a once-revered filmmaker who does commercials for a living who goes to the factory to help his wife’s report where he is later troubled by his experience as well as his disillusionment with politics. Finally, there’s Jane Fonda in an incredible performance as Suzanne as an American reporter working for an American company in France who goes to this factory as she finds herself siding with the workers but feels compromised by the people she works for while also dealing with her own marital issues as she copes with the chaos around her but also in her own life.
Tout va bien is a superb film from Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin. While it does a messy and uneven narrative with political commentary that is all over the place. It is still a fascinating film that explore the lessons learned and unlearned following the events of May ’68 as well as being a film that explore a certain period in Godard’s career that had him stray away from narrative-based films. In the end, Tout va bien is a terrific yet flawed film from Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin.
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. - Two or Three Things I Know About Her - La Chinoise – Weekend (1967 film) - Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) - (Joy of Learning) - (British Sounds) - (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 2022
I've got a Jean-Luc Godard review going up this week too! And I remain so far behind you with his filmography.
@Brittani-This is one of his political-based features that went on from 1968 to 1979 where he didn't employ a traditional narrative as it is a mess though despite the presence of Jane Fonda. I might do 2 more Godard films this year as one of them is currently on MUBI as will another one at the service.
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