An almost unrecogniseable Louis Garrel as renegade director Jean-Luc Godard in Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable
"Hazanavicius directs with flair for the style and mood of the Sixties." | Photo: Unifrance

Cinema purists were never going to warm to a project which might be less than respectful to one of the founding fathers of the New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard.

Michel Hazanavicius (who made The Artist, The Search and OSS 117) eschews any such considerations for his irreverential dissection of the life of an artist at the crossroads.

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The director has adapted his screenplay from a novel by Godard’s ex-wife Anne Wiazemsky dealing with the couple’s marriage at the time he was shooting La Chinoise with the actress, who was 20 years his junior.

The reaction to La Chinoise provokes internal soul-searching in the 36-year-old Godard, always a complex and difficult character given to sudden mood swings. Such traits are exacerbated by the May 1968 unrest and a trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Godard and his fellow directorial turks, shut down the Festival after a few days and he became obsessed with the “revolution.”

On their return to Paris the couple’s relationship becomes increasingly estranged with Godard ranting about his disenchantment with the work of his idols such as Renoir, Lang and Ford and championing Jerry Lewis instead.

Louis Garrel transforms his looks and his dark locks shaved to given an uncanny physical resemblance to the intellectual “genius” whose thick-rimmed glasses provide a running joke by getting regularly knocked off and smashed.

Stacy Martin as Anne (an upcoming actress) provides a perfect foil to the constant stream of consciousness from her partner by remaining quiet and passive without being a pushover for Godard’s intellectual peccadillos.

Godard’s constant posturing is well observed with him intoning at one point: “If the audience no longer likes my films, it’s because there is something wrong with them.”

Hazanavicius directs with flair for the style and mood of the Sixties and it is obvious much of his budget has gone on the decor and the recreation of the riots on the streets of Paris.

He takes a playful and sardonic approach to his subject, exploring the vicissitudes of the creative process. It has a lightness of touch and observation that will antagonise “Godardians” but for the rest of us provides an amusing, heady and engaging concoction.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2017
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Redoubtable packshot
Paris 1967. Jean-Luc Godard, the leading filmmaker of his generation, is shooting La Chinoise with the woman he loves, Anne Wiazemsky, 20 years his junior. They are happy, attractive, in love, they marry. But the film’s reception unleashes a profound self-examination in Jean-Luc.
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Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Writer: Michel Hazanavicius, based on the autobiography by Anne Wiazemsky

Starring: Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Louis Garrel, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Micha Lescot, Grégory Gadebois, Marc Brun Adryan', Lola Ingrid Le Roch, Tanya Lopert, Emmanuele Aita, Arthur Orcier, Eric Marcel, Eva Chico, Louise Legendre, Zina Esepciuc

Year: 2017

Runtime: 107 minutes

Country: France

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