Wednesday, 26 June 2019

A Woman Is a Woman (Une Femme est une Femme) [1961]

A Woman is a Woman, Godard’s fabulous third feature following his seminal debut film Breathless and the politically ebullient The Little Soldier, had the Nouvelle Vague iconoclast at his most irreverent, cheeky, alive and buoyant – achieving, in the process, a delicate and delectable balance between modernism and accessibility. The delightful, infectious, experimental and freewheeling “neo-realist musical” – a deliberately self-contradictory description by the ever-mischievous provocateur – provided for an ingenuous deconstruction of the American musical genre; the highly improvisational film, which Godard made over just 5 weeks, including penning down the dialogues in between shots and filming in natural sound, therefore forms, for me, an interesting double-bill with Lars von Trier’s bleak and brilliant revisionist musical Dancer in the Dark. The teasing plot comprised of a ménage à trois between Angéla (Anna Karina), an exotic dancer in a strip joint, her live-in partner and lover Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy, bearing an eerie resemblance to Jean-Pierre Léaud) and his best friend Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). Angéla suddenly realizes that she wants a baby; but, when Émile continues to be hesitant and non-committal despite her ardent persistence, she starts providing coy invitations to Alfred who holds a candle for her. The film’s tonal exuberance and formal joie de vivre were complemented by its dazzling colour palettes, melodic choreography, and the series of hilarious gags, puns, wordplays and deadpan meta-humour that it was filled to brim with. The chemistry between the three leads was terrific, but the focal point, without doubt, was Karina’s sassy and enchanting turn. It also had brief but delectable appearances by the irresistible Jeanne Moreau and the affable Marie Dubois, while referencing to Truffaut’s Jules & Jim and Shoot the Piano Player.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Genre: Comedy/Romantic Comedy/Musical
Language: French
Country: France

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