Redoubtable – Film Review by Frank L
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writers: Michel Hazanavicius (script by), Anne Wiazemsky (adapted from the novel “Un an après” by)
Stars: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo
Hazanavicius (The Artist 2011) focuses on a year in the marriage of Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel), who was in his mid-thirties, and Anne Wiazemsky (Stacy Martin) who was just twenty. He chooses the time of their initial infatuation which coincides with the revolutionary events taking place in Paris in the spring of 1968. Hazanavicius shows the popular acclaim which Godard enjoys arising from his earlier work including Breathless (1960). However, Godard rejects the acclaim as it is not in tune with the revolutionary spirit which now imbues everyday life in Paris. He of course is older than the student body which is the driving force of the social unrest and he finds himself open to abuse from the young revolutionaries. Nevertheless he needs to be part of the Zeitgeist and Anne and he attend or maybe get caught up in various demonstrations. Hazanavicius has a fine comic streak and into the demonstrations he injects comedy not least by the device of having Godard’s spectacles smashed in the chaos. As it happens more than once it becomes an engaging joke which says something for Hazanavicius’s comic skills that the destruction of a pair of spectacles can be and is amusing. The film follows the tensions in the marriage and the tensions in the film world arising out of the events taking place on the streets of Paris.
The script is based on a memoir by Wiazemsky Un an après (One Year After) 2015 and according to Hazanavicius, Wiazemsky “initially declined to grant him the film rights to her book. But when she realised he intended to find the humour in her relationship with Godard, she changed her mind. After five minutes, she said, ‘OK, I trust you, do whatever you want’”. Martin and Garrel from the very beginning find an unease which underlies the relationship between Godard and Wiazemsky notwithstanding their infatuation and Hazanavicius certainly finds the humour in the resulting stresses and strains.
Jean-Luc is still alive and 87 years old and when told that a biographical film was being made about him is alleged to have said “ I don’t like it…stupid, stupid idea”. The film that has been made does not flatter the image of Godard but it is an enjoyable glimpse into a turbulent time and a corresponding choppy relationship. The end result is very far from being stupid.