Ty Burr
January 25, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Vivre Sa Vie

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
85 minutes
performer
Anna Karina
director
Jean-Luc Godard
genre
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it an A+

Those who know director Jean-Luc Godard only through his inscrutable ’80s output may wonder why he’s considered a giant of modern film. One of the best answers is 1962’s Vivre Sa Vie, starring his then wife, Anna Karina, and bristling with heart and intellect. On the surface it’s a cool, fragmentary look at a Parisian girl named Nana — not too bright but with hidden depths — who drifts into prostitution. To keep us distant, Godard trots out Brechtian devices such as title cards and long, statically filmed monologues, but somehow the flashy alienation effects only underline Nana’s stunted romanticism, and her eventual fate is emotionally devastating. The film’s a love letter to Karina, as well, with breathtaking moments in which the actress stops speaking the rigorous dialogue, turns to the camera, and transfixes husband and audience alike with her sphinx-like beauty. A+

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