The Image Book

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Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Image Book
"Elusively impenetrable stuff that only loosely can be described as cinema." | Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Would The Image Book be in the Cannes Competition if Jean-Luc Godard wasn’t a New Wave icon with an association with Cannes that goes back decades? I doubt it because this is elusively impenetrable stuff that only loosely can be described as cinema.

It marks the prolific auteur’s eighth showing at the festival after Slow Motion (1980), Passion (1982), Detective (1985), anthology feature Aria (1987), Nouvelle Vague (1990), Eloge de l'Amour (2001) and Goodbye To Language, which shared the jury prize in 2014 with Xavier Dolan’s Mommy.

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Here he seems to be wrestling with the state of the planet and our collective inertia to what is going on around us.

The film is a complicated collage of images and clips from such films as Notorious, Young Mr Lincoln, Freaks and Pasolini’s Salò among others, spliced in with terrorist murders and other monstrosities as the world appears to be spiralling out of control.

Apart from his own voice there are no actors in the film - simply the distorted and jumpy narrative. Godard seems to have left cinema behind and this feels more like a potential visual arts installation than a film, which, indeed, he has suggested might be its fate.

In that context it might work in spurts but writ large on a big screen it feels woefully and infuriatingly inadequate for all but the most loyal Godardian purists. Will anyone actually get it - or is there anything here to get?

What Cate Blanchett and her jury will make of it all is anyone’s guess but good luck to them.

Reviewed on: 12 May 2018
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The Image Book packshot
Nothing but silence. Nothing but a revolutionary song. A story in five chapters like the five fingers of a hand.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Writer: Jean-Luc Godard

Year: 2018

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Switzerland


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