Owen Gleiberman
November 17, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Notre Musique

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
79 minutes
performer
Nade Dieu, Sarah Adler
director
Jean-Luc Godard
distributor
Wellspring

We gave it a B+

Jean-Luc Godard’s Notre Musique opens with a montage of war images — Vietnam guerrillas, suicide-bombing victims, Sieg Heiling Nazis, all mixed with clips from old cavalry and knight movies — that is raw and poetic, gruesomely beautiful, and almost shocking in its MTV-does-the-history-of-human-battle potency. Can this really be Godard? Have no fear, he still has an entire movie of astringent aphorisms to go. Yet even after the director reverts to his familiar mode of deconstructive quizzicality, planting us at a book conference in Sarajevo where two very metaphorical Native Americans match wits with a handful of mostly Jewish and Palestinian writers and journalists, the immediacy of that opening sequence still echoes. Notre Musique is Godard’s post-9/11 statement, a meditation on how war emerges from the eternal, and hypocritical, duality of human perception — the sense that it’s always ”the other” who dies. Godard himself, puffing on a fat cigar, shows up to deliver the film’s most provocative observation, which is that after World War II, ”the Jews become the stuff of fiction, the Palestinians of documentary.” In Notre Musique, Godard locates the heart of the world in that divide, that moral schism. The movie then asks, without answering, Can it ever be repaired?

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