I recently read an article on the internet about Film Socialisme, Godard’s most recent film that has just been released on DVD in the past couple of weeks. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but his newest film has filled many with rage and others with unrestricted passion for it. It is a very divisive film that I have yet to watch. But anyway this man who wrote the article was mostly dismissive of Godard’s whole oeuvre, which I obviously disagree with, but he did bring up an interesting point. He said that Godard plays to our “lower” tendencies. In the traditional sense it would mean gore, hyper sex and exploitation, but in this sense he means that he plays to cinephile’s tendency to read into everything and reference obscure things in pop culture. I am sure that you have had friends who go to movies as much as you do, but they seem to like a film if it is divisive or intentionally obscure whether it was good or not. They are usually referred to hipster cinephile. Godard seems to play into the want to be the only one in the theater that “gets” it. At least sometimes. I feel like that is what he is doing with this film.
Based on a Greek myth, the film stars Gerard Depardieu as a man who gets possessed by God or the Devil in order to feel physical love with his wife. Of course I only got that after extensive research on the film, watching the accompanying documentary and several views of the film where I needed to force feed myself caffeine in order to stay awake. (I use classical music to fall asleep to, and he uses the most calming classical music on his scores, thus lulling me to sleep about thirty minutes into every viewing.) There is some things in this film that muddle the storyline and do not add anything to the viewing experience at all. This is where I believe the snarky blogger I talked about in the previous paragraph was right. Do we really need a slow pan of several people placed in front of a sea if we are never going to see these individuals again? Why do some actors act like talking heads but give no explanation for why they are on-screen other than to express some obscure philosophical idea? These things just make the film heavier than it should but don’t really add much to the idea or the aesthetic points. It is quite frustrating.
There are several scenes that I found emotionally fulfilling. There is one scene in particular where the husband leaves the devoted wife (with amazingly red hair. I want it!). The scene is broken up depending on who is telling it, but he conveys the devastation she feels so completely that it pulls at your heart. He accomplishes it by actively watching him get up and leave her several times. It was quite effective. Another scene I like is when he comes back to her but is the Devil (or God… we never know!) instead of her husband. She realizes it right away but she still gives her love to him in such a depressing way. The camera lingers on her face as she is eating, as she is sighing and the actress just sort of looks lost. But that lost feeling is the right emotion at that point. I do have to say although that I hate when Depardieu talks in that growly voice that Godard uses in several of his films. I know why he does it in this film (to denote the difference between the actual husband and the god possessing him), but it still grates on my ears every time I hear it.
Also this film is filled to the brim with beautiful shots, but the shots just seem to be there because they are beautiful and nothing else. That is also something about Godard that frustrates me. Why linger on something for several minutes when it doesn’t really matter? Am I not getting something in this film that forces me to not like it? I want to like it. I want to understand where he is coming from. I want to embrace his use of non-narrative, but it just ends up with me getting confused. Confusion is prevalent when you are watching Godard.