Pierrot le Fou

Pierrot le Fou ★★★★★

Pierrot Le Fou is a cerebral, sun-baked romance, shot through with surrealist wit and elements of film noir. It is a film so rich and vibrant in its cinematography, music and dialogue that these aesthetic elements alone should satisfy most film enthusiasts. The charisma of the two leads, Anna Karina and Jean Paul Belmondo, adds an even greater magnetism to the viewing experience. They seem to breeze through the picture, lending it an energy that more than makes up for the flimsy plot (never one of Godard’s priorities).

If you want intellectual nourishment, then it’s here. It’s the tension between life and art; between experience and creativity; between the artist and his muse; and, for the latter, read Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina who had just split up by the time this film was made. This lends the film an element of sobriety and, in Marianne’s betrayal, we start to realise some of the pain and resentment that Godard clearly felt towards his former partner. The film is not all that one-sided, however. Ferdinand has his flaws – his refusal to live life to the full (he’s always stuck in his poetic reveries) and his frustrating pretentiousness would be enough to drive the most patient partner to distraction. In true existentialist style, he has a casual disregard for his own life and failings, lending the bleak ending a blackly comic charm.

And Anna Karina is so passionate, so full of energy, and so beautiful in this film, that we clearly understand (if proof were needed) what charmed and captivated Godard. Ultimately, the film becomes a lament for her and for happier times – “the last romantic couple”, as Godard quipped.

Richard liked this review