The newest installment of me watching Godard films then me trying to unravel his high-brow philosophical questions and failing utter continues tonight with 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. If you google this film, read the synopsis on IMDB or watch the extra features on this disk, you will know that this film is about the phenomenon of prostitution that was prevalent in the emerging suburbs and high rises of sixties France. Godard was fascinated with prostitution. I think this is the third film about prostitute he made in only a few short years. Why did he decide that this was so interesting that he must submit his delicate actresses to undressing and looking like a whore on-screen? Based on what I have watched, listened to and read about Godard, he found it interesting because these overt prostitute were a symbol for the normal citizen’s everyday prostitution. Increasingly even rich people who were brought up to be dilettante had to work and sell their creativity, their body, their soul in order to live and afford gaudy things like color televisions, powdered detergent and Coca-cola among other things. Our society was and still is shooting towards being materialistic and consumer based culture instead of art-based or idea-based. This is evident in his films by the near fetishization of everyday products that all seem to have originated in the States. Products like Lucky Strikes, Coca-Cola, Laundry Detergent, Fashion Magazines, and other things that we sort of take advantage fill his screen and interspliced with the lengths that the protagonist has to go to in order to enjoy these luxuries.
Juxtaposed with this consumerism are various close-ups of socialist and philosophy books that Godard liked at the time and people quoting modern playwrights, authors, and philosophical ideas. However these people seem to be as shallow as the prostitutes who sell themselves in order to buy a new fur coat or to keep their family in the lap of luxury. These characters ultimately say nothing about their situation in life, the state of war or anything that pertains to the central dilemma of this film. The only figure in the film that has any truth in him or her besides Godard as the narrator is the child of the protagonist. I found his recounting of a dream he had where North and South Vietnam met and became friends again was fascinating. I also thought his slit lisp insanely cute and charming.
There is a scene about half way through the film that I feel makes this film worth watching. It is a scene when the protagonist is in a cafe making eyes at this man who might become her next john. He sits with a cigarette in his mouth and a coffee cup full of that black liquid in front of him. The camera zooms in to see the infinite swirls of the coffee after the man had stirred it. Over top of this image is Godard himself whispering a monologue about his isolation that he feels and the loneliness and inability to connect with anyone. He feels lost in this modern world that is constantly coming up and coming down around him. He films construction sites of these new high rises that are popping up everywhere and the highways that commute the people who live in them to the city. However as he films them, he seems to be removed from them. He cannot relate to this need to live in a “posh” apartment, own an expensive car, drink Coke all day and have every luxury in life. He knows that cannot make him happy. All of this comes to the forefront in his narration as a bubble oscillates and acts like a living organism under a microscope. It is moving to say the least.
As a complete film, with a plot line and something to say, it falls a little flat. The acting is naturally wooden and sort of lays flat on the screen. This is probably due to Godard’s unconventional way of directing the people on-screen. He would put an earpiece on them and ask them questions that they then had to answer as their character. He also would give them things to repeat through the earpiece without seeing it written down or have time to rehearse. He also was experimenting with talking over action and therefore it can be distracting. However I applaud the effort exerted.