Goodbye to Language ★★★★

The work of an artist who does not give a fuck. Who doesn’t hesitate to hack up the soundtrack or switch to low-grade digital handheld or do things the ostensibly wrong way. Sometimes Adieu au langage will try to piss off its audience. Sometimes it’s as if the film were trying to tunnel back up into the womb from which cinema was born. Briefly, it becomes a period piece about Mary and Percy Shelley. No formula is followed, no rules obeyed. The only guiding principle is a deathless curiosity about how else the world might be experienced. As is typical with Godard, the film is dense with allusions to art and history, though these are layered atop lyrical interludes spent alongside water, trees, and a dog named Roxy. Often the film will retreat indoors, where naked bodies and quick acts of violence, caught in canted angles, figure in its loose collage.

Although functionally a non-narrative feature, Adieu au langage gradually slips into a reliable pattern. Quick snippets of footage cycle in and out, emphasizing the extreme tactility granted to nature and human behavior in 3D; these are then followed by brief sections set among the film’s talkative men and women. The frequent jumps and disruptions give the illusion of a filmmaker screwing around, yet within each segment Godard employs formal rigor paired with a drive toward experimentation. Hence shots like the camera twirling vertically as a man looks at his body in a mirror, or a woman posed before a bright light while The Snows of Kilimanjaro plays on TV to her right (her speech translated with English subtitles, those on the TV in French). Or, most celebrated of all, the two shots that diverge in 3D, superimposing one perspective on top of another. No single instant in Adieu au langage expresses anything less than total (and contagious) excitement for everything a movie can do.

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