I am going to tell you right now: I don’t have much to say about this film. I am writing this review a couple of days after watching it and already most of what it had to say has escaped my mind. It isn’t like I hated it or thought it was particularly annoying, it just didn’t grab me in any sort of way.
In order to compensate this, I decided to read some reviews from critics, many of them very famous. They seem to be extremely defensive of America in relation to this film. They hate on it particularly because Godard hates on America. I find that perplexing. Godard has always had an aversion and a fascination with American pop culture. He has condemned America’s materialism and involvement in several wars in almost every overt political film he has made. In this film I guess he goes too far for many American film critics’ taste. Mainly he attacks Spielberg, a big no-no in mainstream film criticism. No matter what Spielberg does, he is always right, even if he tears up a beloved cartoon and fashions him into this odd robot man or makes a whole film surrounding a freaking horse. I have never had this pull towards Spielberg. I think that maybe I did not grow up on Indiana Jones, Jaws or E.T, so I do not feel this need to defend him. I guess I should tell you what Godard says through his actors. A film studio representing Spielberg is interviewing an older woman who had a story to tell about French resistance in WWII. They are trying to buy her story for what seems to be a paltry sum. One of the characters said that he made millions on Schindler’s story but Mrs. Schindler is living in poverty in Argentina. It may have been a harsh thing to say, but in a way Godard is right. Spielberg made millions while exploiting our sorrow for the Holocaust. He made a film that was artistically questionable and earned some many accolades for it that he is still riding that Holocaust wave. Why can film critics not see this?
Throughout the film he plays with words to what also seems to be upsetting to critics. If you look through my past reviews of his films, you will notice that I comment on his mix of language several times. He likes to play with it, splash on the screen, force actors to say things that are intentionally confusing. In one particular place, he decides by way of purely etymology discussion that the United States of America isn’t really a name that is our own. Again he has another valid point. The United States of America is not the most inventive of country names, you at least have to admit that. He is not saying that United States of America is not a valid place to be, but that the name is essentially meaningless which is true. And yet this has film critics blasting the film as if Godard is slapping their mothers with a wet salmon.
I think that if you are going to have a problem with this film, you will find plenty of things to gripe about without getting defensive about being American. Americans need to get over themselves and realize that our country is not the best one in the world. In fact most of the time it really sucks. I am sorry that I did not get into much about what this film is about, but that is usually besides the point with a Godard film now isn’t it? A quick lowdown on what I liked: the juxtaposition of black and white film and digital color; the discussion of film theory in several places and the difficulty of getting a film fully realized; and the discovery of a lost person in the main character’s past. What I didn’t like: the constant diversions from the main plot; the lack of focus in the second part of the film; the incompleteness I felt after ending the film. It should have been at least thirty minutes longer, he didn’t seem done exploring what he was exploring but was just tired of making the film. But that discussion is less interesting than my lambasting of fellow film critics (that are more sophisticated and more experienced than I am) isn’t it?