Breathless (A bout de souffle)

Breathless

After all, I’m an asshole.

I just did a bit of a Hitchcock marathon, and I came back across this trio of influential films around the same time, so I thought I’d make another mini-marathon of it. Thus, the first in my French New Wave-a-thon, Breathless, the indelible debut film from Jean-Luc Godard.

This film is rough, yet at the same time it’s very smooth, like a sheet of fine sandpaper. It runs like a film, yet at times it runs like a documentary of the making of the film itself. This docu-drama style would be a key component of the New Wave movement. The innovative use of jump cuts in this film are distracting to the point of absurdity, but they rarely take away from the film. One of the tenets of the French New Wave was to draw attention to the filmmaking process itself, and the jump cuts are an integral part of this process. Another was hyper-realism performances from the actors, who do such a natural job that even when your attention is drawn to the nuts and bolts, you rarely remember that the characters are actors instead of living, breathing people like anyone.

I will always remember the first time I saw Breathless. It was during a film history class at the film school I attended. Of everyone in the class, I think I was the only one that loved the film rather than hated it. This is a great, very involving film if you allow it, and like most truly great films, it never ceases to be interesting in some way. This is designed to make you love the process of filmmaking and what it can do, and it is quite a successful film at that.

Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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