I’ve fallen into an old cliche with this project — the one where you make a New Years resolution, and stick with it really diligently for a month before falling back into old habits. I’m very behind on my moving watching and movie blogging! But I haven’t stopped entirely.
Case in point: I recently watched Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic, “Pierrot le Fou.”
The film follows an unemployed Parisian husband and father (hyper-cool Jean-Paul Belmondo), disaffected by the trappings of bourgeois modernity, as he escapes his life and goes on the lam with his daughter’s babysitter, a former lover (Anna Karina, whip smart). Pursued by murderous gangsters, they flee to the south of France, build a new life to be unsatisfied with together, and ultimately meet tragedy. The shaggy plot gives Godard room to explore themes of consumerism, the Vietnam War, sexual and gender politics, and the nature of art.
“Pierrot le Fou” is intelligent, inventive, and incredibly stylish — Godard leans hard on comics-print primary colors, no doubt inspired by the Pop Art of the ’60s, and the results look fantastic — and, to me, falls flat. I think what must have been bold and revelatory in 1965 is, well, almost 60 years old in 2023. I don’t think it’s aged poorly, with the exception of a scene featuring Karina in rather garish yellowface, but with a movie this self-consciously provocative, time is inevitably going to dull its sharp edges.
All that said, this scene — basically a self-contained little vignette toward the end of the movie — is one of my favorite things I’ve seen in a while.