Contempt 1963 ★★★★★

Made during his most innovative period Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris is an examination of the creative process of filmmaking (the artistic versus the commercial) and primarily, the breakdown of a marriage. Both of these narratives are linked thematically and literally to the story of Homer's Odyssey.

The disintegration of the central relationship between Paul (Michel Piccoli) and Camille Javal (Brigitte Bardot) is most clearly elucidated in a 20 minute sequence that takes place entirely in their apartment, accompanied by the perfectly melancholic score by Georges Delarue. The couple engage in petty arguments and bitternesses that on the surface seem mundane and inconsequential but clearly reveal that there is a real underlying disdain for one another.

Visually the film is stunning, the locations throughout Italy (particularly the island of Capri) are captured brilliantly in Cinemascope and the colour palette used for the interiors is most striking and the images of classical sculpture and architecture are contrasted with the modern to great effect.

For all the meta-filmmaking techniques implemented by Godard, Le Mépris fundamentally succeeds on an emotional level because the of the strong naturalistic performances from the two leads.


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