Friday, August 6, 2010

BAND OF OUTSIDERS (Jeal-luc Godard, 1964, France)

A ménage a trios living in moments of stolen time, destroyed by duplicitous factions from outside. Jean-Luc Godard’s ode to classic gangster films submerges American B movie conventions in the riptide of the French New Wave, extolling the virtue of interpolating reality frame by frame.

Odile is portrayed by the waifish Anna Karina, her dark eyes offsetting her porcelain beauty, innocence of the self-absorbed and indifferent. Odile is taking a English class and confesses to Franz, a fellow student and acquaintance that she works for a rich man whose cache is readily accessible, and together with his friend Arthur they plot to steal the money. Godard’s simplistic plot may propel the story but he toys with cinematic genre tropes, allowing the film to linger in an English class as the teacher imbues Shakespeare’s tragic romance with a vociferous passion, a spastic race through the Louvre, a minute of silence that severs the audience from cinematic time, or a quick-stepping dance sequence that takes us into the minds and motives of each character. The criminal act becomes a comedy of errors instead of the typical well-planned heist, and Godard isn’t done surprising us: even the dead come back to life as the deadly shootout spills family blood. Arthur finds himself in the doghouse while Franz and Odile escape to a new and secret beginning.
Final Grade: (B+)

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