Masculin Féminin

Dir: Jean-Luc Godard, 1966. Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Chantal Goya,Marléne Jobert, Michel Debord. French. Foreign.
Masculin Féminin

Playing with sound and image, image without sound and sound without image. White text over black. Questions answered by the opposite sex in the form of questions. French New Wave icons. Gunshots and the symbolic separation of fifteen acts. In classic Godard narrative form, the film searches for the line between the male and female and proposes a parallel of these relationships to social problems in contemporary times.

Godard has the ability to make a conversation half a film. That’s not exactly the case here, but I’m not far off. Sometimes scenes like that may seem long and tedious but here, somehow, it’s never dull and never without style. Meet Paul and Madeleine. Hardly ever in contemporary film can we observe and study characters in such casualty. Yet even in casualness their interaction bridges on the topic of more tangible matters – Bob Dylan, her reaction to his approach, a play on words... Later, Paul’s interrogation towards other women explore heavy topics – from sex to birth control, to views towards Capitalist America, to the concerns of Vietnam War. We may not agree with Paul’s views or the female’s answers, but Godard’s antics do leave something to be desired. Society is reviewed in a brutally honest form in this modern time and still to this day I can relate.

The film, divided in fifteen acts, is loosely strung together in a vague and youthful series, constantly interrupted yet woven together by incidents impertinent to the immediate story. Perhaps Godard could have done it any other way, but in this manner, he is clearly intentioned in the way he informs the viewer of his film constructs.

Godard’s dialogue never fails to skim the pages – he references his own titles for good measure, and a poke to his audience – “Ever notice there’s the word ‘mask’ in masculine? And also ‘ass?'” Oh, Godard – as scouring as ever in a post-Contempt work, he is innovative, fearless, and legitimate.

Posted by:
Tiffany Huang
Mar 5, 2009 1:20pm
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