A Woman Is a Woman ★★★½

For twenty or thirty minutes there, I thought this was going to be my favorite Godard. It’s certainly the first of his first three features (Le Petit Soldat shot before; released after) that announces what would become his very 60s trademark style. While Breathless is all about breaking from what had become the French tradition of cinema, Woman is a Woman is instead Godard embracing what he loves about cinema: its blending of artifice and reality. Begins as his most Tashlinesque film – at times could resembling a Looney Tunes cartoon in its surrealism (Karina walks through the magic door and fits into a perfectly suited outfit!). Much of Godard’s choices are more or less show-of-ish: removing sound at odd intervals, breaking continuity as cars pass while two characters talk to each other in a street, all the winks to the audience – but it’s all more or less delightful as a “musical” as Karina tells us.

However, once it settles down into a narrative, things gets a bit more…complicated. The film toes the line between self-aware critique of its bourgeoisie society and gender roles, and sort of indulging in some of the more ugly misogyny that always shows up in Godard. It also suffers from the fact that Godard seems way more interested in his cinematic playhouse than his characters, it just becomes a lot of variations on the same ideas. This shouldn’t be a problem; Etaix’s Le Grand Amour basically does the same thing. Except there’s no class critique in Etaix, and his jokes are simply funnier and flow into a very simple narrative. Better then to watch for its surfaces – Karina’s lustrous and dancing body (grab those binoculars!), the couple always making out at the entrance to the apartment, Belmondo repeating Lancaster’s grin from Vera Cruz. Godard is rarely this fun!

The Celluloid Liberation Front would note that many characters view themselves in the mirror. THIS IS NOT JUST THE REFLECTION OF THE CINEMATIC APPARTUS, BUT LACAN’S MIRROR STAGE. BY BECOMING AWARE OF THEIR OWN BODY AND THE CURRENCY OF SEXUALITY, ANGELA AND EMILE CAN SUCCESSFULLY JOIN THE CAPITALIST PIG BORGOEUS SOCIETY.

Report this review