Dir: Michel Hazanavicious | Cast: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Berenice Bejo, Micha Lescot, Gregory Gadebois, Felix Kysel | French | Biopic Drama
Agnes Varda showed us the borish side of Jean-Luc Godard in her Cannes film Visages, Villages and in REDOUTABLE, his Palme d’Or 2017 hopeful, Michel Hazanavicius shed light on the narcissistic introvert he eventually became in the late 60s, away from the bright lights and adoration of the French film industry that made him a legend.
Played here with sardonic insouciance by a balding Louis Garrel, this is an enjoyable biopic that sees Godard withdraw from society to experiment with radical filmmaking and political activism. Refusing to except that his big time was over – he is seen reliquishing control of Wind from the East, a notion that might prove controversial to some viewers. Also he has started to resent his wife Anne Wiazemsky (played by Stacy Martin) on whose memoirs the film is based, she is spending less time with him and away on location – but the pair still generate a pleasurable chemistry. And although his career and marriage are clearly unravelling, Anne still seems an important part of his life.
Naturally the film was going to be a pastiche – this was Godard’s raison d’etre and fittingly Hazanavicious makes extensive use of Godard’s visual and stylistic gimmicks and the famous intertitles in his film’s primary-coloured 60s aesthetic. The famous dark glasses are there, even if he continually breaks them. Godard himself is naturally not keen on REDOUTABLE which makes him out to be a ‘has been’ when clearly he feels he is still a happening director, capturing his audience’s imagination to this day.
There’s plenty of action and debate in REDOUTABLE but strangely played down are the riots of 1968 which affected that year’s Cannes film festival, and seem to be particularly relevant at this time. An interesting watch for his fanbase and the arthouse crowd , but not possibly one for mainstream audiences. MT
ON GENERAL RELEASE FROM 11 MAY 2018