I watched Breathless
last night, then went back and watched it again this morning. It's not often that I watch a film a know, right off the bat, that it's gonna be one of my favorites. Well, the second viewing has solidifyed its position. It IS one of my favorites, now. In a way, this film was like watching Citizen Kane
. You've seen all the filmmaking tricks before, but for some reason they just feel new to you. Breathless
' hand-held cameras and quick jumpy editing. That's nothing new, now, but it sure feels new.
Cool is the only word to describe it. Everything about the film is just cool. Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel, this small-time, low rent huster/car theif, is the antithesis of cool, but that, in effect, makes him cool. You know what I mean? This is man that tries his damndest to approximate Humphrey Bogart. That scene where he stares at the movie poster and tries to strike the same pose had me rolling. Belmondo is the complete opposite of Bogart with his tall, skinny frame, and big nose. I loved the way he treated each situation with this absurd stoicism (to quote the back of the video box). Such a wonderful character.
And where does one begin with Jean Seberg? I'm in love, man. So beautiful, so hip, so strong. The perfect woman? I loved the scene where she's at the press conference grilling that psuedo-intellectual, pompous writer, him refusing to give a straight answer to her questions. And I could've watched her and Belmondo in that shitty apartment going on and on about nothing, really. Seberg trying to talk about intellectual things, books, music, and the like, while Belmondo keeps trying to steer the conversation towards sex. "Sleep with me," he keeps saying over and over. I loved how he kept trying to touch her ass and she kept slapping the shit out of him. Wonderful interplay between the two throughout.
I think that's kind of the point of the movie. It's almost anti-intellectual. Look at its treatment of the aforementioned author and the way Belmondo rejects Seberg's art-talk. I think that's sort of what Godard was trying to do. He's rejecting the over-intellectualism, the inherent artsiness of "important" cinema. At the same time, he's laughing at Hollywood conventions (ex: Humphrey Bogart). At it's heart, Breathless
is you basic "man on the run from the cops" flick, but Godard takes this formula and creates something brand new out of it. Just what, exactly, he created, I haven't decided. It's an art film that's laughing at intellectualism and it's a genre film that's laughing at the very conventions that make up the genre. But above all, it's just plain entertaining. I love it.