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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
55
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 22 May 2016
Good film from French new wave cinema.
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on 27 August 2016
Beautiful Class
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on 21 January 2003
Jean-Luc Godard's "A Bout de Souffle" or Breathless, is a milestone in modern cinema. He and cinematographer Raoul Coutard, pioneered the use of naturalistic lighting as opposed to the more standard Hollywood style of focusing on a certain object or person. The use of the jump-cut to advance the story is still used today, and the story of lovers-on-the-run, whilst nothing new, is told in a different light. The basic plot line is Michel, Jean-Paul Belmondo in his most famous role, steals a car, kills a cop and wants to go to Italy with his sometime girlfriend Patricia. He is owed money but has to wait until he can collect whilst all the time the police tighten their grip around him. Jean Seberg, who plays Patricia, also in her defining role, had already tried a career in America which didn't really amount to much, turned to Europe as her new start. Godard directed and produced this film during 1959 and it was his first major production after making some rather smaller scaled short films. This film could only have been released in 1960. Along with Psycho, it heralded a new era of film making, a more natural and less polished cinema. Whilst not the first of the "French New Wave" cinema, (Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" has that claim) but it is certainly the most influential.
An important film not only in its structure and its look but also the use of improvised dialogue between two people which at times has practically nothing to do with the plot (see Tarantino for the most obvious example), which can be slightly tedious and repetative (hence the 4-star review) but does not deter from the spirit of the film.
If you have any interest in the history of film and how cinema began to change its style towards a more unconventional way, you should own this film. The film is dedicated to cinema, and cinema since the release of this film has a lot to owe to Godard.
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on 24 March 2016
This was purchased on behalf of a friend who reports that he enjoyed this one.
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on 9 February 2016
as advertised, excellent
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on 24 February 2017
The dialogue has dated badly, what was risca is now adolescent, but good performances none the less.
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on 13 June 2017
I will be very honest here. I really wanted to like this film as I have a huge interest in French New Wave cinema and, naturally, I considered watching Au Bout De Souffle to be a must. However, I was unable to fully enjoy the film as Jean Seburg's acting/French delivery was almost painful (I say this as a language enthusiast and speaker of French). I appreciate the fact that she is not a native speaker and therefore this is no simple task but there are countless other great foreign actors and actresses with good command of French - for example Eiji Okada in Hiroshima Mon Amour (Alain Resnais) Of course, she is a very beautiful woman but her role just didn't do it for me. This film could wind up being seen as pretentious by many people but I really liked the vibe and there are lots of lovely quotes in there that will stick with you. Those who don't understand French or find thick New York accents 'charming' (lots of French people do) will have a better time than I did.
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"A Bout de Souffler," ("Breathless")1960, a French crime drama/romance/thriller was the first of the "Nouvelle Vogue"("New Wave") films - made by a school of filmmakers associated with the noted French cinema enthusiasts' magazine "Cahiers du Cinema--" principally Jean Luc Godard(Jean-Luc Godard - The Ultimate Collection [DVD]); and Francois TruffautThe Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) [DVD] [1959]); among others. Truffaut wrote the script; Godard directed; it was his first film. It starred the "jolie-laid," (beautiful-ugly) Jean-Paul Belmondo(Jean-Paul Belmondo - The Screen Icons Collection [DVD]); making his film debut as Michel Poiccard/Laszlo Kovacs, a petty thief-cop killer. And the stunningly beautiful Jean Seberg,(Bonjour Tristesse [DVD]); then 21, as Patricia Franchini, a seemingly aimless American girl taking classes at Paris's famed university, the Sorbonne, selling The New York Herald Tribune International Edition along the City's equally famed shopping street, the Champs Elysee. It introduced techniques that were to become commonplace: hand-held cameras, jump cuts, a cool jazz soundtrack, as it told its story, filmed on the streets of Paris for less than $50,000: even then a bargain basement price.

In plot, actually, it could be a typical B crime thriller of the 1930's or 40's; just what Truffaut and Godard were aiming for-- Poiccard kills the cop in the first few minutes of the film -we're never quite sure why. Thereafter, he just wants to raise enough money to flee to Italy with Patricia; who doesn't wish to go, and will eventually take steps to assert her independence. Poiccard is much more self-aware than an earlier generation of filmic criminals were; he's a great admirer of Humphrey Bogart; constantly trying on the mannerisms of that iconic actor. It's not easy to sympathize with him; yet we eventually do, to some extent.

"Breathless" is widely considered a great, groundbreaking film, and so it is. But my relationship with it is a little different than most people: I first saw it upon its initial release, as a college freshman. Someone once remarked that great books we read when we are young serve as lighthouses: casting their light forward on where we will eventually go. Well, for me, actually, it was movies rather than books, that illuminated the way forward, and "Breathless" was surely a lighthouse for me. Was it the coolness of the characters? Their ironic, disaffected viewpoints? For sure, the two leads are portrayed as shallow and vain, yet the movie spoke to something in the young woman I was; wish I could put my finger on it. So "Breathless" is no longer technically groundbreaking, of course, but hopefully it can still serve as a lighthouse for those coming upon it for the first time.
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VINE VOICEon 7 June 2010
Jump-cuts,abrasive dialogue,panning shots,the use of real locations filmed on the run,recalls the moment of A Bout de Souffle,50 years ago this month.Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo,a handsome broken-nosed actor and the iconic Jean Seberg,protégé of Otto Preminger.Its director,Jean-Luc Godard,was part of the nouvelle vague,including Truffaut, Melville,Chabrol,Rivette and Rhomer.This was Godard's debut-formerly a Cahiera du Cinema critic-,still looking so fresh and modern,the epitome of cinematic invention, vitality and cool.Shot in high contrast monochrome,rapidly edited, interspersed with quotations from literature,art and philosophy.Belmondo plays the Bogart-imitating Michel,the swaggering,mysoginistic petty criminal anti-hero,who steals a car in the south of France and kills a policeman on the road to Paris,where he takes up with an old girl friend,the well-healed Patricia(Seberg),the young,New York Herald Tribune-selling American in Paris.

Chabrol,who served as supervising producer on `Breathless',famously warned that great subjects rarely make great films.And Godard gnomically said:"All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl."This was the basis of the brief scenario that Truffaut,an admirer of film noire and pulp fiction,provided for Breathless.The couple talk of lifeand literature in a seedy hotel,make love and visit the movies while he tries to get money owed to him by criminal associates.The police close in,Patricia betrays him.The style is everything,a calculated destruction and remaking of traditional film grammar.The camera is hand-held,the editing is abrupt and inconsistent.Raoul Coutard's masterly monochrome photography is harsh,hard-edged,reliant on natural light.Melville,director of existential gangster pictures,makes an appearance as himself,the first of such cameos in a Godard picture.He evokes other directors,Fuller,Preminger,Aldrich and Bogart's image looms.We are kept at a distance by Brecht's alienation effect,told that we are watching a film,but also that movies,like our lives are halls of mirrors.Godard deliberately created confusion to `achieve a greater possibility of invention',shooting in the busy streets of Paris.This film,like 400 Blows,is a must-see for any true lovers of cinema.In cinemas this June and DVD in September by Optimum Releasing.
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on 16 May 2001
The DVD transfer of this groundbreaking fascinating film is exceptional. Alot of effort has gone into the picture quality, which is crisp and faultless. The revelation is the subtle and thoughtfully put together subtitles, extremely difficult in a film with such an enormous amount of French "slang".The DVD of Godard's classic re-interpretation of the limitations of cinematic technique, isn't packed full of extras. The extras available are however, insightful. For example the biographies are informative and the Godard short available on the DVD shows the potential of what Godard was to achieve in his extended hotel room scene. This is a brilliant transfer with excellent picture, sound, subtitles and limited but valuable extras.
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