Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Je vous salue, Marie (Hail, Mary) is the story of a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant despite the fact that she never had sex as she also deals with her taxi-driver boyfriend. The film is an exploration of an unconventional pregnancy as well as the role of faith trying to deal with this phenomenon. Starring Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode, Philippe Lacoste, Manon Andersen, Malachi Jara Kohan, Anne Gautier, Johan Leysen, and Juliette Binoche. Je vous salue, Marie is a riveting and provocative film from Jean-Luc Godard.
The film revolves around a young woman in her teens whose encounter with a stranger who claims that she will be pregnant has that claim come true much to the shock of her taxi-driver boyfriend. The film is an exploration of this chaste and virginal woman in her late teens as she deals with this unexpected pregnancy with many questions about miracles, faith, and identity with a paralleling narrative involving a young woman having an affair with her professor as it play into the theories on extraterrestrial life. Jean-Luc Godard’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it plays into the plight of its titular character (Myriem Roussel) who is just a regular teenage girl who plays for her school basketball team and reads a lot of books while her college dropout boyfriend Joseph (Thierry Rode) works as a taxi driver who is having an affair with another student in Juliette (Juliette Binoche) that wants to take their relationship forward. The fact that Mary is a virgin and her encounter with this actor named Gabriel (Philippe Lacoste) who is accompanied by a young girl (Manon Andersen) adds to the chaos of Mary’s unexpected pregnancy with Joseph troubled by what he has to do.
Godard’s direction is offbeat for the fact that he shoots everything in a static shot where the camera rarely moves throughout the entirety of the film. Shot on various locations in Switzerland, Godard maintains a simplicity to the film as it is shot on a 1:33:1 aspect ratio as well as using long shots to play into the drama and only cutting when he needs to as there are some wide shots to establish the locations. Yet, much of the film is intimate in its overall presentation with the close-ups and medium shots as it play into not just the struggles that Mary goes into but also the paralleling narrative involving Eva (Anne Gautier) and a professor (Johan Leysen) as much of that narrative is told through medium and wide shots as it play into their beliefs of an extraterrestrial theory. There are a lot of Biblical references that Godard plays into this story that also includes Joseph’s own struggles over Mary’s pregnancy as he’s convinced he cheated on her as it play into his own contradictions into his own relationship with Juliette. Much of Godard’s direction also play into Mary’s struggles with her own body but also faith itself as she ponders what kind of role she is playing for God but also into why she has to be the one.
There are these shots of Mary nude including some medium-close-up shots of her bottomless where she asks Joseph to touch her but not physically based on Gabriel’s suggestion. It adds to this commentary on Mary dealing with her own sexuality and such but also how it relates to the spiritual while its third act is followed by birth but also the eventual aftermath of Eva’s relationship with her professor which also relates to Mary’s search for body and spirit in her own sexuality. Overall, Godard crafts a compelling and mesmerizing film about a young woman becoming a modern-day Virgin Mary.
Cinematographers Jacques Firmann and Jean-Bernard Menoud do amazing work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on luscious colors for the exterior daytime scenes in some of the countryside locations as well as maintaining a cold look to the scenes in the winter including for some interior scenes at night with some low-key lighting. Editor Anne-Marie Mieville does excellent work with the editing with its low-key approach to jump-cuts to play into some of the dramatic moments as well as keeping shots lingering for dramatic effect. The sound work of Francois Musy is superb for its natural approach to sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations as well as its usage of music to drown out certain bits of characters conversing with one another. The film’s music soundtrack largely consists of classical pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonin Dvorak as it play into some of the drama but also in key moments that help play into Mary’s plight.
The film’s ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from Johan Leysen as a professor who believes life comes from extraterrestrial beings as he has an affair with one of his students, Anne Gautier as the student Eva who has fallen for her professor and is intrigued by his ideas only to cope with the realities of the world, Manon Andersen as a young girl who accompanies Gabriel as a secretary of sorts as she would say some things to Mary that would haunt her, Malachi Jara Kohan as a young boy late in the film who would become this source of inspiration for Mary, and Juliette Binoche in a fantastic performance as a student Joseph is dating as she is eager to take their relationship to the next step while dealing with his feelings towards Mary.
Philippe Lacoste is excellent as Gabriel as an actor who makes a premonition towards Mary as he also is someone who is aware what is happening to her as he implores Joseph to support her. Thierry Rode is brilliant as Joseph as a college dropout who works as a taxi driver that is dealing with not just what happened to Mary but also the frustration but also his own affair with Juliette as it brings complication into what he wants in his life but also for Mary. Finally, there’s Myriem Roussel in a phenomenal performance as Mary as this young virginal woman whose chastity is shattered by this mysterious pregnancy as she deals with not just her own sexuality but also with the spiritual as she ponders her role in the world but also things about herself as a woman.
Je vous salue, Marie is an incredible film from Jean-Luc Godard featuring a great leading performance from Myriem Roussel. Along with its ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, and its study of womanhood, faith, and the mysteries of the world. It is a film that explores a mysterious pregnancy as a woman deals with this strange phenomenon that is happening in a modern world that forces some to question the spiritual but also the world of science. In the end, Je vous salue, Marie is a sensational 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. - 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) – Tout va Bien - (Letter to Jane) - (One A.M.) - (Number Two) - (Here and Elsewhere) - (Every Man for Himself) - (Passion) - (First Name: Carmen) - (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)
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