Almost 50 years after Breathless baffled stodgy critics (The New York Times called it ”pictorial cacophony”), Jean-Luc Godard’s trailblazing first feature feels more comfortably in tune than ever with our inscrutable times. As a slippery thug-on-the-run and an airy American student, the charismatic Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg ping-pong about love, literature, and sex, while flaunting an appealing,contemporary spontaneity. Which is not to say that Breathless has lost its impudent zing. With an homage to Bogie and an ending ripped from the final seconds of Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra, Godard simultaneously salutes Hollywood and gives it the finger: Says longtime cinematographer Raoul Coutard in a new doc, the director made a purposely rebellious movie, using a handheld camera, natural light, a wheelchair for dolly shots, and, most famously, the influential and now-ubiquitous jump cuts. (What would music videos do without them?) Despite the radical intent, Breathless remains one of Godard’s more accessible, beguiling films. Also included in this swell Criterion two-disc set: a 1959 Godard short starring Belmondo and a 1960 interview with Seberg (who committed suicide in ‘79), lovely and light, before her life went to pieces. A-
(Jerry Tavin/Everett Collection)
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg; Director: Jean-Luc Godard; Author: Jean-Luc Godard; Runtime (in minutes): 90; MPAA Rating: Unrated
Posted October 19 2007 — 12:00 AM EDT
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