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Godard Mon Amour (Redoubtable) Review

"Based upon Anne Wiazemsky's novel of her tumultuous marriage with Jean-Luc Godard"
Louis Garrel as Jean-Luc Godard in "Redoutable."
Louis Garrel as Jean-Luc Godard in “Redoutable.” Courtesy of Distribution Soda (Management).

Godard Mon Amour AKA Redoubtable is a light-hearted approach to a contrarian regime within French history.  Directed by Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), this film is based upon Anne Wiazemsky’s novel about her and Jean-Luc Godard’s dysfunctional marriage.  Anne was younger than Jean-Luc when they first meet– she is 19 and he is 37.  In addition to the age difference, there is a bit of a mismatch in the power dynamic between the couple.  Jean-Luc is already an acclaimed director in French cinema.  Anne is on the forefront of an acting career of her own and previously starred in one of Jean-Luc’s films, La ChinoiseLa Chinoise marked one of Jean-Luc’s deeper progression into Maoism and his fight with the French New Wave Film movement.

Louis Garrel (The Dreamers) and Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac Vols I and II) play Jean-Luc and Anne, respectfully.  The foundation of “Redoubtable” doesn’t deviate too far from the traditional love story.  Anne is 20 years his junior.  You can feel the severity of the emotions that are paved from her to Jean-Luc.  It is a feeling that extends far beyond her age.  The pathway is reciprocated by Jean-Luc although the road is not as stable.  Stability; however, does not create brilliance.  She is in love with a man who is in search of the truth in life.  Anne cannot be blamed for cutting Jean-Luc loose within his downward spiral.

Louis Garrel and Stacey Martin in “Redoubtable.” Courtesy of Distribution Soda (Management).

Michel Hazanavicius’ tendency of his film to appear more lighthearted also prohibits viewers from placing all the blame on Jean-Luc.  He is an artist, both in the traditional and the political sense.  His search of a greater good can be described as somewhat childish, somewhat brilliant, and all laced with a hint of sarcasm.  Unfortunately, I am not as well-versed on the personal, professional, or the political life of Jean-Luc Godard or the impression of the French New Wave Film Movement.  That lack of historical context made it difficult to determine if Jean-Luc was actually subverting the Bourgeoisie and their mainstream values or if he was emulating the cause in search of an even deeper internal meaning.  Regardless, it took a very strong person to step away at the top of his craft in order to progress a cause that he thought to be greater than himself or his relationship with Anne.  It is a selfless act in theory, but both Hazanavicius and Garrel also do not let you forget that the Cause is somewhat selfish, too.

Louis Garrel faced a difficult task in taking on such a prolific figure like Jean-Luc Godard.  Godard embodies the persona of modern-day hipster – partially posing for the attention but not without the underbelly of artistry.  Garrel’s personification of Godard molded well with Hazanavicius’ light-hearted depiction and allowed a film of an extremely heavily subject matter to be filtered differently.  Stacy Martin’s presence in the film is one step removed from the foreground.  It was essential in order to anchor Jean-Luc’s antics.  She observes and listens while Jean-Luc rambles.  Her silence makes her struggles appear even more turbulent.  She remained pure in her love for Jean-Luc.  Although, he often viewed her as antiquated.

The timbre of this film is what drew me in – there is always a peculiar tone in the background.  Godard relentlessly tried to not become mainstream.  It is a film that will remain underappreciated if you do not understand Jean-Luc Godard or the movement he strived to protect.  A lack of familiarity may hold some younger viewers back from fully appreciating the subtleties of this film.  Hazanavicius’ depiction does not provide much influence for these viewers to grasp onto either.  This comedic tone may also force some cinephiles and fans of Godard to revolt.  Jean-Luc expressed a similar dismay following its premiere.  That disparity is what Jean-Luc Godard worked for, even if he will not admit it.

Rating
6.9
Pros
  • The film leans heavily toward a comedic underbelly which may reach mainstream viewership.
Cons
  • The lack of a backstory for Godard may inhibit some viewers understanding.
  • Cinephiles of Godard's previous work may not be easily malleable to the style of the film.

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