Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Bout de Souffle

While I would hesitate to consider my self a cinemaphile, I do appreciate a good film and last night I viewed one of the best I have ever seen. Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" ("A Bout de Souffle" in the french tongue), the French New Wave classic that marked the beginning of an era.

What makes this film so great? On the first glance, it has a very straight forward, simple manner to it. Godard once said that "all you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl" and he adheres to this in "Breathless." A foul mouthed Lothario steals a car in Marseilles--leaving behind, naturally, a female admirer--and on his way to Paris shoots a cop. Once in Paris he meets up with an old fling, Patricia, an American girl selling the International Herald Tribune, and spends the rest of the film evading the police, bedding Patricia, cursing and imitating Humphrey Bogart. There is more, but I'd rather leave it at that for anybody who has not seen it.

But there is a level of intimacy that is conveyed by the grainy, black and white, documentary feeling of Godard's hand held camera work. The acting, all at once casual and spirited, is superb in its depiction of cool kids in the late 50's. At the conclusion of the 90 minute duration of the film I felt so in tune with the main characters. . . so full of grudging admiration . . . so ready to take up smoking that I am truly looking forward to watching it again tonight (now that the Cleveland Indians are done for the season).

As you may be able to discern, I do not possess the proper jargon that a true lover of film would employ in describing a movie as influential and classic as "Breathless." Yet I felt compelled to write about my first experience with this film and urge you, dear reader, to seek it out if you have not already . . .

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