Godard Mon Amour (aka Le Redoutable) (2017)

A look at director Jean-Luc Godard during the late 1960s through his then wife Anne’s eyes, this film takes an irreverent look at the idol of many and makes him human through how he lived with his wife.

Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius and based on the novel “Un an après” by Godard’s ex-wife Anne Wiazemsky, the film takes a slice of Godard’s life, one where his career and fame are well established in France and during a period where he took chances like making La Chinoise where he met Wiazemsky and fell in love with the 17 year old who he later married, the film gives a bird’s eye view on a small period of a man’s life, showing his talent and his downsides. The writing and directing are unapologetic and irreverent in how it approaches its subject. Of course, being based on a novel by the man’s ex-wife, the view is to be taken as such and the film makes no excuses about that. The approach looks to be honest, at least from her point of view, and that gives the film and its process a lot of charm.

Playing the lead of the film, the titular character, is actor Louis Garrel who does good work of transforming himself into Godard and making him his own at the same time. The character being a person many know or know of, the part had to be well studied and well interpreted to avoid falling into clichés and caricature. His central position is taken seriously and the characterization created for Godard fits what most would expect him to be. In the part of the auteure on whose book this is based, Godard wife at the time and now ex, Anne Wiazemsky, actress Stacy Martin does fantastic work giving a performance that is vulnerable yet decisive. She gives the young woman a lot of character and a lot of aplomb in her day to day activities and in how she handles the larger than life man she is married to. Rounding out the main cast in terms of performances, actress Bérénice Bejo steals a few scenes as the couple’s friend Michèle Rosier. Her presence attracts attention to her whether or not that is the wanted effect as she gives another of her magnetic performances.

Helping the performances and helping sell the story is the wardrobe, a small detail many may overlook, but one absolutely necessary in a film taking place in the late 1960s in a population that followed and rejected fashion, the costume choices are of high importance. Here the work from costume designer Sabrina Riccardi shows a great attention to details on that from, giving each character a wardrobe that fits their personality, their budget, and their chosen places in society. Assisting this and working around it is the production design by Christian Marti whose work makes everything come together beautifully with details on every front, from costume to décor to sets etc.

Shooting all of this work is cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman who creates a look for the film that is its own while also looking and feeling right out of 1960s France. The film works within this frame throughout and keeps a solid, coherent look for its characters to work in and for the art displayed from all departments to have a chance to be seen and shine in its own way.

Godard Mon Amour is a film that will mostly appeal to fan of man and fans of French cinema. It feels like an old school French film while looking the part and being filled with attention to details on all fronts. The performances are strong and the writing keeps things interesting. The film’s style, cut up in chapters, works in telling a story that needs clarity and a mostly direct approach. The film is well-crafter and directed, giving Godard’s fans a deep enough look into his public and private life with a few little details thrown here and there where only fans will catch them but not too many for the uninitiated to feel out of the loop.

The blu-ray release of Godard Mon Amour boasts a lovely transfer that keeps the looks of the film intact and gives the great quality a film like it deserves. The features are a bit bare bones with just an interview with the director and lead actress which while interesting will be so mostly for people really wanting to know more about the film, its making when it comes to their respective works, and their views on Godard and his work.