Redoubtable (4 stars)

Redoubtable

Endlessly playful Jean-Luc Godard biopic from Michel Hazanavicius

The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius has pulled off the clever trick of making a drama about Jean-Luc Godard in the anarchic style of a Godard film. Redoubtable tackles a turbulent period in the 1960s when Godard, expertly played by Louis Garrel, began to turn his back on filmmaking as a form of conventional storytelling. Artistic restlessness coincided with political upheavals in which he sought to embrace the revolutionary fervour that brought protesters to the streets of Paris in 1968.

Redoubtable is based on the memoirs of Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin), Godard's wife, teenage muse and star of 1967's La Chinoise. Divided into chapter headings, ranging from 'Mao's All Greek To Me' to 'Kill Godard', the film is amusingly irreverent in its depiction of the great maestro. Godard may have been the inspirational driving force of the nouvelle vague but, on this evidence, he was a nightmare as a person: insecure, jealous, controlling, eternally unreasonable and completely insensitive to the feelings of others.

Garrel has the look and manner of the young Godard but also captures a sense of his sulky petulance and failure to comprehend that perhaps the world does not entirely revolve around him. Martin cuts a more diffident figure as his wife, who seems willing to indulge his behaviour and tolerate his moods, at least up until a certain point.

Endlessly playful, the film happily breaks the fourth wall, draws attention to itself, sustains running gags and skewers the absurdities in blurring fact and fiction as a casually full-frontal Garrel argues over performers seeking the artistic justification for appearing naked on screen. Arch and mannered in places, Redoubtable is also a huge amount of fun, especially if you have any interest in Godard, French politics of the 1960s, or the private failings of public figures.

Selected release from Fri 11 May.

Redoubtable

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • 1h 47min
  • Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius
  • Cast: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo

Amusingly irreverent depiction of how, in the late 1960s, director Jean-Luc Godard (Garrel) embraced revolutionary fervour, based on the memoir of his then-wife, actress Anne Wiazemsky (Martin). Garrel captures the filmmaker’s look and sulky petulance and it’s a huge amount of fourth-wall-breaking fun.

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