Pierrot le Fou

Pierrot le Fou ★★★★½

Around one hour in, I was ready to christen Pierrot le Fou as THE film. Such is the sublimity of its craft. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, this is one of the high points of cinema that I've seen; the colors and landscapes (and vehicles) of the CinemaScope photography are dazzling. The massive frame tracks the characters with effortless grace. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Ana Karina are stars, simply. Godard's monologues, chock-full of allusions to varied sources (high- to low-brow), are incantatory. His stylized formal flourishes are as singular as ever, and seamlessly at home in this "post-modern sort of Bonnie and Clyde story" replete with perverted romance, little interest in a coherent story, fourth-wall breaks, lapses into musical-comedy, and much more befitting a film which revels in and finds beauty in anarchy. A beauty that Ignatiy Vishnevetsky describes much better than I—by adamantly refusing to. Unfortunately, it seems there's a limit to how much one can engage with a work in which they find almost nil emotionally, intellectually, or narratively. Ravishing formalism can't quite propel a film that far, even if it gets close enough. But, hey, the hollowness is probably the point, right? And anyway, even when disinterest begins to slide in, Godard will slide something in—like that random old dude's monologue by the water, which is him doing Woody Allen as well as Woody Allen ever has (and I generally like Woody Allen, the filmmaker)—to prevent you from totally checking out. The influence of this is massive and it shows. The "play" put on sticks out sorely and demonstrates how juvenile Godard's intellect is, at least at this stage, though that juvenileness is also what makes this film so great.

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