Top positive review
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"a pile of money,a home by the river,a romantic girl"...
on 9 February 2011
Godard made this film after the high production values of Le Mepris.You feel he's unwinding,having a good time.A tribute to Hollywood pulp crime movies of the 40s and the love affair with his wife,Anna Karina.The plot is taken from Fool's Gold,a crime novel,by Dolores Hitchens.Godard uses a basic plot,Odile meets Franz(Frey)in an English language class and with his friend,Arthur(Brasseur),forming a semi-love triangle,embark on a plan to rob her aunt of some laundered cash in a cupboard.This is at least up there with Breathless and Pierre Le Fou.There is no narrative.There is a string of inconsequential set-pieces,sly cross-references,literary allusions and quotations.
These range from Rimbaud,Kafka,Poe,Novalis,Shakespeare,Jack London,Aragon and Queneau.Arthur and Franz act out the shooting of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett,prior to their inept criminal adventure.This is a suburban western, replete with suburban boredom and banality.The men's stamping ground is drab streets,dingy cafes and builders' yards on the city's outskirts,along the Marne,in pre-war type settings.Their car is another character,driving round in circles,expressing their freedom and ebullience.Misfits even with each other,they remain isolated and
self-absorbed.'Isn't it strange',Franz muses.'how people never form a whole?'Even in the iconic Madison dance sequence, and the 9 minute record-breaking run through the Louvre, though in sync,their disconnection is their cool.The men read out from newspapers about local petty murders,crimes,world news on a riverbank.Karina,Godard's muse,has never been better,gauche,naïve,giddy and starry-eyed, drifting helplessly between the two men,making love with her eyes.Godard at his most experimental,plays with the conventions of cinema,with voice-over narrations, commenting upon the character's thoughts;mocking the banality of the story:'the robbery must wait until nightfall,
thus respecting the tradition of bad B-pictures'.Godard charms us breaking all the rules of cinema,eg,observing a minute's silence by cutting off the soundtrack,speaking to camera,letting you know you're watching a film,mingling real deaths with fake deaths.Under the comedy is a painful sense of suburban drabness and boredom, unemployment, frustration, and disillusionment -- reflected in Raoul Coutard's superb capturing of overcast weather and polluted river vistas in varying shades of grey, as well as in the sad and wistful waltzes of Michel Legrand's score.Summarising for 'latecomers':"a pile of money, a home by the river, a romantic girl."Godard keeps us in touch with his process.