Redoubtable (2017)

One of the leading figures of the French New Wave cinema of the 1960’s, Jean-Luc Godard was fond of referencing other movies in his films. So it is appropriate that a biopic of the director should freely include pastiches of his early work. Yet despite appropriating a scene shot in negative from Alphaville, a love scene cut like that of A Married Woman or a cinema experience shared with Live Your Life, the film that Redoubtable more readily brings to mind is Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories.

Having just completed the poorly received La Chinoise, Godard finds himself at a crossroads. He marries the film’s star, who is seventeen years his junior, and aligns himself with students revolting against De Gaulle’s France. He disowns his previous films, and embarks on a quest to ‘make political films politically’, causing his existing relationships to fracture. His new wife no longer recognises him, he constantly argues with his friends, and his fans continually remind him that they prefer his earlier, funny movies.

All too obviously, so does the writer/director of Redoubtable. The film’s early scenes, depicting the blossoming romance between Godard and Anne, have an endearing, charming, quirkiness about them. But after the disappointment of La Chinoise, Godard becomes a mean-spirited, abusive, pretentious bore. This has the effect of not only alienating those close to him, but film’s the audience as well.  

 

Whereas the sympathies of Stardust Memories’ director lay with the filmmaker, the director of Redoubtable treats the filmmaker with contempt. Perhaps in one of the film's direct addresses to camera, the director could have subtitled Godard’s reaction to this biopic a la Annie Hall – “this film is a stupid, stupid idea.”

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The scene where Godard argues with students at the Sorbonne, in which he equates Israel's treatment of Palestine with the Nazi's treatment of Jews, is fictional.

 

"It's not in the book, nor in any archive. But it's an equivalence of things he has said."

Michel Hazanavicius

Biopic features some behind the scenes work on The Seed of Man and Wind from the East as well as a brief scene recreation from La Chinoise.

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