Maculin Feminin

Battle of the sexes. A trope in storytelling that is as old as time. However most of the time it is seen from the male perspective and the woman always looks insanely stupid, vapid and just plain annoying. It annoys the shit out of me. Maybe I am hysterical, vapid and ultimately stupid but I know plenty of men who are the same if not worse than I am. Where are the films that show the men as stupid or vapid? Oh right because women who are of higher intelligence wouldn’t go for those men, but men are willing to sleep with any attractive woman even if she is a big ball of annoying. (See how I stereotyped men? I told you, you opposite gender.)

What I described above is the same as what happens in this film. The film follows Paul played by Truffaut’s muse. He is an idealistic and out of work communist. He meets a woman whom he knows through other people and he falls in love with her. However she knows nothing about communism, politics in general, protecting herself against getting pregnant, or anything else except how to look good and how to sing in a flat annoying voice. Paul falls in love with her and moves in with her. However she has roommates who are girls and the roommates are vastly more intelligent than she is. One of them falls in love with Paul and they share a love for classical music and witty repartee while they wait for the vapid girl to join them. He only sees this singer and he stays in love with her throughout the rest of the film.

The film is broken up by long dialogues where the camera interviews these characters. It is mostly focused on the girls that populate the film. One girl is a pageant winner who has definite ideas about getting married, but can’t name what wars are going on at the time (hint: this was made during the period of escalation of involvement in Vietnam and France had colonized Vietnam before the war started. They were just as involved as America was). You also get hints at the love interest by these interviews. These hints do not make her a whole person or redeem her in any way. So why are these interviews in the film? I think it was to illustrate how uninvolved with politics most people are and to also show his contempt for the main love interest.

I tried to give this film a fair shake. When I am perplexed by film due to its historical context, I usually watch the extra features and it helps me understand and contextualize the film. This time it just showed how bitter Godard was after his divorce from Anna Karina. He picked up the main love interest after watching her in a cafe for a half hour. She had been in the popular music scene before she met Godard but had no acting experience. The famous story is that Godard picked Anna Karina out of a soap ad and asked her if she would take off her clothes for Breathless. When she said no, he came back to her for Le Petit Soldat which is a political film. He got lucky with Anna Karina. She turned out to be subtle and interesting to watch on film even when her characters were flat and uninteresting. He missed the point with this girl. I was bored with the film, because I was bored with her. Although on paper, his female roles seem stereotypical, the actresses he chooses brings them to life and make them interesting by their choices. This girl had no choices. She just sang inane songs.

All and all not one of my favorite Godard’s films. I felt he gave this generation, in particular the women, a short shake. This may have been before May of 1968 in Paris, but there was no doubt a building up to those times of political unrest that could be seen in 1965. He should havve had more faith in his peers.


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