Breathless ★★★½

Oh, to have been born fifteen, twenty years earlier! True, I would likely be dead by now. But then, I might have been better able to see what makes Breathless so special.

Shot for next to nothing on a hand-cranked camera, Godard's debut feature is an ode to low budget crime movies (It's opening dedication is to Monogram Studios), using several unique approaches which are maddening to some.

Firstly, to get fresh performances from his stars, Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo, he read them their lines and made them say them over. (The camera was too noisy to attempt location sound in any case). The fourth wall between actor and audience is frequently broken. But the most dramatic is jump cuts within a scene, often from sentence to sentence, looking for all the world like bad shooting, or bad editing, but obviously purposeful; there are many lengthy shots that would have been the envy of any Hollywood director, all thriftily done by placing the cameraman in a wheelchair.

Nonetheless, this was a rousing success at the box office, and solidified the French New Wave as a force to be reckoned with. That also means that everything that might be deemed fresh or exciting at the time, has been fully assimilated into the more bourgeois cinema by the time I got around to seeing it. C'est la vie.