This is a movie which should really never be seen for the first time.
I bought the DVD after reading a reference to the movie in the New Yorker magazine. I was open-minded, not knowing at all what to expect. I had never seen a Godard film before, being much more familiar with German cinema than French.
Half way through the film, I was thinking - there is no plot, the dialog ranges from unintelligible to utterly pointless, absolutely nothing is happening, there are no characters I care the least bit for, the actors seem totally oblivious to where the camera is (half the time their backs are turned to us while speaking, or doing whatever they are doing - which seems to be nothing of any interest most of the time). Most astonishingly, Godard at frequent intervals seems to despair of showing us anything at all, and the screen fades to black... and stays that way for lo-o-o-o-ng seconds, sometimes with (pointless) dialog, sometimes with nothing at all. When it was all over, I still had no idea whatsoever what it was about.
But - but, but, but.... I can't remember when I've last seen a movie I found so compelling, so arresting, so utterly mesmerizing, so ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. I couldn't tear my eyes away. (With two annoying exceptions*) every scene was absolute perfection, every line precisely the right line. I keep re-playing it over and over again in my head. I can't wait to watch it again. THIS IS WHAT GOOD CINEMA IS ALL ABOUT. Highest recommendations - see it, buy it - it will change what you think about movies.
.... After three viewings of this movie, I need to amend my comments slightly. What marks this movie apart from most others one sees is its depth. There is no way to see everything that's going on in any particular scene in one go, and it seems that no detail was too small for Godard's consideration. The songs playing in the background, the movie posters on a wall, the casual mention of a name leads to a dizzyingly complex web of associations that can only be appreciated by pondering. You will not "get" this movie right away, but I guarantee it will haunt you. Despite its undeniable flaws, one of the most rewarding films I have ever seen, and I have definitely not watched it for the last time. Highest recommendation.
* The two (to me, at least) flawed scenes are:
1. Where the people are (apparently in a bookshop) listening to a radio broadcast about Kosovo. What is the point of this scene?
2. At the house in Brittany, where the lead female character goes off on a long rant about America having no history, so it must "steal" others' histories to make its movies. Huh? What about Westerns? Gone With the Wind? The Grapes of Wrath? etc. This is nonsense.