Friday, 7 October 2022

Band of Outsiders (Bande à Part) [1964]

 Godard made a euphoric return to the world of B-movies – the palette for his seminal debut feature Breathless – with Band of Outsiders, his 6th film in 4 years. This quirky, funny, playful and irresistibly infectious work – filled with ingenious interludes and asides, and wry pastiche to American genre cinema – formed a lovely companion piece to Truffaut’s dazzling sophomore film Shoot the Piano Player, in that both were eccentric adaptations of pulpy hardboiled novels – Dolores Hitchens’ Fools’ Gold and David Goodis’ Down There, respectively –, and they effortlessly juxtaposed bleak and downbeat poetic realism with remarkable stylistic bravado and nonchalance. This slacker crime caper revolved around two guys – the sincere and straightforward Franz (Sami Frey), and his cynical and raffish buddy Arthur (Claude Brasseur) – vying for the same girl, viz. the vivacious, coquettish and doe-eyed Odile (Anna Karina), who they’re trying to have as a partner-in-crime in their plan to rob the large stash of cash which, as per her information, can be found in the building in a grimy Parisian suburb where she resides. Things, unsurprisingly, don’t go as planned, which was twice over here on account of its post-noir sensibilities and its maverick director. The latter aspect was especially noteworthy thanks to inspired sequences which’ve become part of cinematic folklore – Franz and Arthur’s faux recreation of Pat Garrett shooting Billy the Kid; the troika’s seductive and melancholic “Madison dance” in a nondescript café; their celebrated mad dash through the Louvre – and myriad other irreverent interjections, like the minute of silence, Karina breaking the fourth wall with the rhetorical question, “why a plot?”, etc. Michel Legrand’s terrific jazz score and Coutard’s melancholic B/W photography added to its roguish charm.

Note: My earlier review of this film can be found here.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Genre: Crime Thriller/Crime Comedy/Buddy Film/Avant-Garde

Language: French

Country: France

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