Two or Three Things I Know About Her (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle)

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her

Speak as though quoting the truth.

There’s a bit of a perverse satisfaction upon meeting and starting my final Godard film on the list, knowing that, more likely than not, it will probably be my last Godard film, period. To say that Jean-Luc Godard and I don’t really click on the same level is to somewhat understate the fact, and aside from a very few anomalies in his filmography, I generally disregard the man’s work entirely. It was thus that I did extensive looking into 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her before I started it, to make sure I didn’t hate it as much as I sometimes really hated a Godard film. In the end, it worked out; I didn’t hate this, and I even found myself liking it at certain points. But only barely.

The plot ostensibly follows Juliette, a young housewife, through a day in her life as she does whatever, ranging from shopping for clothes to prostituting herself. The plot of the film isn’t what’s important, though, and the film knows this, barely giving a care as to whether or not it is following the so-called narrative at any given time. No, instead, this can really be called a film essay (one which centers on the concept of modern living in Paris), and it has more than a few things in common with F for Fake, which would popularize that term. Godard’s film comes 5 years before Welles’, so technically Godard can lay an earlier claim to the genesis of the idea, but this is still a Godard film, so along with the concept of watching a film essay, there’s some inherent expectations that come with watching a Godard, and most of them make a reappearance here. Along with the general deliberate messing with the viewer to keep him or her from sinking into the film at any level, there’s also a bit of social discourse and, dare I say, subtext to what Godard does here, even more so than his previous films. For instance, the “her” of the title does not refer to Juliette the character, or even to Marina Vlady the actress, who is introduced in an impartial voiceover at the beginning of the film, but to Paris in general; a fact the Book cites somewhat proudly, as if it spent a good long while deciphering this cryptic meaning, when actually the film itself tells you straight up what the Her of the title refers to right at the beginning of the picture. Then there’s the question of Godard’s own whispering of the voiceover narration, plus the habit of characters stopping what they’re doing or saying and talking directly into the camera; apparently this was done by Godard speaking to them through an earpiece and asking them questions on the fly, forcing the actors to give spontaneous answers through the fourth wall. Interesting, yes, and maybe even relevant to Godard’s thesis here, but it was one of Godard’s many tricks that got old fast. Nice use of color throughout the film, though.

I found a little more to appreciate here than I normally do with Godard, and I attribute it solely to my knowing going into it that it was to be largely a film essay a la Godard instead of his other films, which laughably attempt to have a narrative in the face of the director explicitly ruining his own films by taking you out of them with jump cuts and random volume changes. With that said, though, I’m glad I’m done with Godard; I honestly am. I can appreciate what he did for cinema, even if I personally don’t like it, or even barely condone it. That he is still alive and making films today, while all his contemporaries of an era gone by are either dead or retired, is an excellent example of cosmic hilarity to me. I find it even more amusing that it seems that none of his recent works have gotten nearly the same reaction as his work during the 1960s did. To that, I can only say that I would wager it is because cinema, as a whole, has moved on, has evolved, and Godard, the one-trick pony that he is, is still trying the same old things that people once called him brilliant for. Now, though, it just makes him seem old hat. Stick to Godard during his heyday. That is, if you even like him at all to begin with.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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