Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vivre Sa Vie

I haven't seen many of Godard's films. Probably less than half. But, I do believe I've experienced the holy trinity of Godard. The father (Breathless), the son (Pierrot Le Fou), and the holy spirit (Band of Outsiders). Any other film I watch by Godard will feel less than the other three. This is a fact I've put into my mind. And, so far I have not been proven wrong.

Again, my love of prostitution is at play with Vivre Sa Vie. Nana, the character played by Anna Karina, is a want to be actress pushed to the breaking point. Once her finances are gone she turns to a friend for advice. Prostitution being the best advice. All of this is handled in such an unusual way. Nana never hesitates. She doesn't seem scared, either. She is a strong spirit. Unwilling to let anyone break her dreams.

The films credits are a series of different angles of Nana's face. We are shown her left side, right side, and front. The audience is forced to really study Nana. Also, this is Godard's way of letting you know this is very much a character study. Godard plays a joke on us by beginning the film with a conversation between Nana and Paul. We are only shown the backs of their heads as they sit at a diner counter. After being forced to stare into Nana's face we are quickly taken away.

Godard's filming is unusual. The camera moves in such strange patterns. At times it plays along to the music. At times it moves like the dialogue. At times, the camera moves the action to the screen's edge. Godard is so playful with filming. Constantly forcing the audience to pay closer attention. To get past the distractions and attempt to focus.

The film is set up into a series of 12 tableaus. This is very similar to the way Brecht created theatre. Brecht uses titles as the start of every scene. The uses of titles allows the audience to know what is about to happen in the following scene. This keeps the audience from being distracted by plot. Again, forces the audience to pay closer attention to motive and character. Lars von Trier uses this same Brechtian method in his films (Dogville, Manderlay).

Vivre Sa Vie isn't boring. It is too short to bore. But, it isn't quite full of enough substance. There are a handful of dialogues that really pull the audience in. Some philosophical ramblings. Mostly just a strong spirit wandering slightly lost.

The films rests on Karina's shoulders. She does a most beautiful job. There are two scenes where Karina stares directly into the camera. The audience in confronted with the break in the fourth wall. And suddenly everything feels more real. I looked away from the screen in a moment of discomfort. A beautifully played trick.


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