Set in the near future, Paula, a leftist writer, goes from Paris to the French town of Atlantic-Cité when she learns of the death of a former colleague and lover, Richard P. Is she there to... See full summary »
During the Algerian war for independence from France, a young Frenchman living in Geneva who belongs to a right-wing terrorist group and a young woman who belongs to a left-wing terrorist group meet and fall in love. Complications ensue when the man is suspected by the members of his terrorist group of being a double agent. Written by
Bruno Forrestier (Michel Subor) is a 26 year-old Frenchman working in Geneva with links to extreme-right terrorists. Set in the background of the Algerian war, he cannot return to France as he has deserted but cannot remain in Geneva, where two terrorist groups suspect him of being a double-agent and shadow him menacingly throughout the film. Common to Godard films such as A bout de soufflé and Peirrot le fou, there is a palpable sense from the beginning that Bruno is living on borrowed time, so the action takes on a certain urgency within this shadow of danger. This is contrasted by the serene filming and narration, which evokes calm and certainty. Godard uses over-narration from the beginning, creating a sense of certainty with regard to the action, although distorting the viewer's perception of time, especially when the two at one time merge together. At the same time, the intensity of danger is capitalised on by the heavy use of close-ups of the characters, who are all stylishly dressed in suits and driving American cars. A hand-held camera is also used to bring the viewer even closer to the action and, we feel, to understanding the motivations of Bruno in what remains a highly political film. The viewer is kept on his toes by the inconsistent length of sequences, ranging from very long and intense (in apartments) to very short and spontaneous (mostly with moving cars). Godard cuts mercilessly between scenes which are only tenuously linked by the storyline and, in order to create a contrast, will not explain this with the narration but with the continuation of action in the film (to which the viewer must then stay gripped). With the cars, the clothes, the editing, the hand-held camera work and the use of close-ups and over-narration, the film is a pioneer of Nouvelle vague cinema, having been made before A bout de soufflé (1960), but banned in France until 1963 due to its political commentary. Ironically, these techniques create such an intense relationship between the screen and the viewer that the presence of politics is of secondary importance to the desire to understand each character and find out whatever little you can about them. In these ways you are drawn in and remain gripped to the film.
26 of 32 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?