In Review: Redoubtable
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cinema lovers should appreciate a film that centres around its creators. This film has poignant relevance in our politically volatile climate as it investigates the purpose of cinema in testing times. It is accepted that a film reflecting and enhancing the views of a particular component of society can be very affecting, and if of the moment, perhaps considered revolutionary. However what if members of that particular component of society don’t align with the rhetoric of their self-proclaimed mouthpiece who desires to make art from their story? A mere ‘peasant’ explains to the creator he chooses to see films that are ‘nice stories’; why on earth would he pay to see more of what he is constantly surrounded by? The creator retorts, ‘What does this peasant know.’ In Michel Hazanavicius’ Redoubtable, that creator is film director Jean Luc Godard.
Adapted from actress Anne Wiazemsky’s (his former wife and muse) 2015 memoirs Un an après, the film recounts a section of Goddard's life: the ‘political years’, and his romance with Anne. We begin with her at 19 and starring in his film La Chinoise. Godard is unanimously regarded as one of the most gifted directors of his generation, a pioneer of French new wave cinema. His 1960 film Breathless is now widely considered one of the most important watersheds in the history of film. Having said this, he decided to turn his back on his previous work and endeavour to create truly political work. He believed French film at the time, ‘preferred the great works of the past to experimentation.’ By aligning with students he has found his creative weaponry, the revolution, despite their unwillingness to reciprocate his efforts for solidarity. Is the creator truly revolutionary or bolstering his own ego? - they question.
Brilliantly shot, the film mirrors Godard’s work. One particularly memorable scene is shown in a single image; an argument in a car after Cannes film festival was successfully shut down by Godard and his revolutionary friends, preventing one of the passengers, filmmaker Michel Cournot (Grégory Gadebois), from showing his work. Here we see the driver (the ‘peasant’) tentatively offer his views on why he watches films, only to be quickly dismissed as irrelevant.
Director Michel Hazanavicius (who also directed the Academy Award winning The Artist back in 2011) paints with a vital streak of irreverence. Godard always is his own biggest critic. Total alienation from his smug arrogance is avoided by his self-awareness. ‘The activists despised Jean Luc, and he agreed with them‘.
At the heart is a love story. The intricacies of the demise of a relationship are drolly played out. Anne (played with understated ease and charm by Stacy Martin) and Jean Luc stand completely nude and discuss the incessant and ridiculous desire of filmmakers to shoot their actors naked. Louis Garrel as Godard lets us see that beneath the surface of the pretentious artist proclaiming his importance, there is concealed sadness. Whether or not this film is a portrait of Godard as a radical hero of new wave cinema or a pretentious egotist is for you to decide. SC