Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Breathless" (1960)

In many ways, I am a little embarrassed of my adoration for Breathless (or A bout de souffle, if you prefer the French titles). Now, in all fairness, I think it does display some kernels of brilliance. For one, stylistically, it suits its title. Director Jean-Luc Godard's famous jump cuts make it seem like the narration constantly tries to catch its breath as it keeps up with the plot. For two, Jean Seberg looks amazing as the American girl in Paris. Her pixie cut, flowy frocks, and cat-eye glasses represent fashion to me.

However, at the same time, Breathless remains one of those films often tossed around the social circles of college sophomores who took one film history class, and became momentarily obsessed with the French New Wave. It, like most college conversations, is pretentious and keeps a stick a up its ass, as the participants try to impress each other with the same interpretations again and again. Now, I was one of those college sophomores, but that's beside the point ...

But it is a good movie, albeit perhaps more style than substance. I can forgive that though, because it remains so aesthetically pleasing throughout the style almost becomes the substance, in lieu of other aspects. For example, the plotline, which involves a car thief who kills a policeman, and then hides with his American girlfriend (Seberg), seems alright to me, but not amazing. I get more caught up in the characters' lengthy conversations about nothing, except "deep" questions that mean everything to them. Again, this college fodder throws me back into mindsets that embarrass me, only because I wish people (myself included) could discuss popular films like this without the snootiness and title-dropping. Breathless is a simple film with a reputation, and I fear that reputation overshadows the actual work quite a bit.


Blondie said...

I will check it out!!! Kori xoxo

Shybiker said...

You made me laugh with the observation about this film being mentioned by pretentious film-novices. That's so true.

Every film deserves a fair viewing, regardless of its reputation. Thanks for your opinion on it.