Joy of Learning

When I first looked at the description of this film on, I got really excited. I thought this was going to be one of my favorite middle period Godard films that would give me hope when slogging through the clunkers he sometimes committed to celluloid. It sounded like it was a sophisticated look at language, film and politics as seen through this conversation between two people. I thought it was going to be a lot like My Dinner with Andre only with a filter of Godard’s filmmaking layered on top. Godard is capable of coming up with great characters who also have political agendas. Just look at Le Petit Soldat. He is also capable of saying multiple things in one film that come off as revolutionary and interesting. Just look at Week End. However he failed at doing these two things while making this film.

This film is a conglomeration of everything he did in previous films that frustrated me. He interspersed title cards that only sometimes related to what the people were talking about. He fragmented the conversations in ways that made the conversation  through line muddled. He had that actors speak in an unnatural voice that screams pretension and too much of it at that. He introduced obscure political theory without explaining the context or what the theory actually was. He looped tape of protests that he then stopped and started several times within a space of seconds. He used Jean-Pierre Leaud and Juliet Berto (both are from La Chinoise), but I feel like they are not particularly strong actors and therefore got lost in the words they were made to say. All of these things I could have tolerated if they were on their own, but mashed together like this made me want to smash the television in.

I understand that he is trying to break out and try new things and that is great, but he really missed the mark with this. He should have stuck to one main idea and added everything else sparingly. I really liked that this conversation was between two radicals who when not on the stage talking to each other, perform political tasks. Why couldn’t they have shown those tasks? I would have loved to see Leaud actually blow up an Italian movie theater because they dub the voices and not use subtitles. That would have been visually more interesting than pictures of political figures with words written on them. I guess I am hating on this film so much because I went in expecting to love it or at the very least like it and instead it confused and frustrated me. I feel stupid when I am watching this film and I don’t feel like that was Godard’s intention. This film almost made me want to give up watching his films. I know it gets better. I know it gets better. Now all I have to do is repeat that until I am convinced.


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