Breathless (1960)

Breathless (À bout de souffle)
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Written by Jean-Luc Godard; story by Francois Truffaut
1960/France
Les Films Imperia/Les Productions Georges de Beauregard; Societe Nouvelle de Cinematographie
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Patricia Franchini: We look at each other in the eye, and it’s no use.

I’m not a big Godard fan but I remember liking this one.  Sadly, it did not survive a repeat viewing.

Even Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Bemondo) himself realizes he is an a-hole.  He starts off the movie by stealing a car and killing a police officer.  For the rest of it, nearly every action is some kind of crime or callousness.  He fancies himself to be a Humphrey Bogart kind of guy but he doesn’t even come close.  He claims to be in love with young American student/newspaper vendor Patricia Franchini.  Clearly, this is only because she is undecided about him.

The story mainly concerns Michel’s efforts to get some money he is owed, bed Patricia, and drag her into his life of crime.  With director Jean-Pierre Melville as a famous writer.

This, like every other Godard film I have seen, is almost purely an exercise in style.  Since I find the style to be pretentious navel-gazing and winking at the audience, this movie left me cold except for the times I was yelling at Belmondo through the TV screen.  I think Michel is easily one of the most unlikeable protagonists in the history of cinema.

4 thoughts on “Breathless (1960)

  1. I think I want to like this a lot more than I actually like it. My family has a weird connection to Jean Seberg, so that may color my opinion as well.

    I agree that it’s all about the style, though. There’s nothing new here in terms of the story, but the way the story is shown feels very new.

    • I like Jean Seberg and liked her very much in this. I think my view of the style is colored by my negative reaction to subsequent Godard movies.

  2. What surprised me was that Patricia seems to be a smart girl, someone who would recognize Michel for the jerk he is. So what on Earth does she want with him?
    An exercise in style is a very apt description.

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