Redoubtable

 

starstarstarhalf

 


An off-beat look at the world of French cinema in the late 1960s.

 
Redoubtable

Louis Garrel and Stacy Martin

 

This new film from Michel Hazanavicius who gave us The Artist is a genuine curiosity. He has written it himself taking as his source material two works by the French actress Anne Wiazemsky who died in 2017. In fact it is her book Un an après which was the main inspiration here and the film looks at the period between 1967 and 1970 during which time she was married to that most iconoclastic of film directors, Jean-Luc Godard.

 

The publicity for Redoubtable finds Hazanavicius describing the film as a love story and a work intended to have popular appeal. But, although Stacy Martin is well cast and persuasive as Anne Wiazemsky, the fact is that it is Godard who is screen centre and the main focus is on the problematic situation of a man who believed in the need to change cinema radically yet discovered in making the attempt the extent to which the whole film industry functioned as part of the commercial, bourgeois world that he had come to detest. In the circumstances, although we see how the conflicting outlooks of Godard and his wife would soon drive them apart, this aspect feels like a sub-plot rather than being of the essence.

 

Redoubtable gains from good production values and from Louis Garrel portraying Godard so convincingly. That's so even if some may question the way in which Hazanavicius sees Godard. His viewpoint is that of someone who admires the films that established Godard and respects totally the fact that he then followed his beliefs in seeing cinema as a political tool but at the same time believes that Godard's views were erroneous. His Godard is sometimes a comic figure, but also a man complex enough to look at his situation in the late 1960s and to be self-critical enough to understand those who were then criticising him: indeed, what he did next would counter their view that he was in reality a celebrity pretending to be a revolutionary.

 

However much Redoubtable questions Godard's views, it is wholly approving of the student protests of 1968 but one doubts that it has the potential to be the popular film that Hazanavicius thinks it is. If some Godard enthusiasts will question this take on their hero, other viewers less familiar with his oeuvre will surely find that the numerous playful homages present in this film will pass over their heads. The supporting cast includes Bérénice Bejo engaging as ever, but only Garrel and Martin are given any real opportunities to make a mark. Hazanavicius is a filmmaker with one foot in popular cinema and does include jokes (among them a good one about nudity in films and a feeble one when Godard's glasses are broken sufficiently often to become a running gag). However, it is serious film buffs acquainted with Godard's work for whom Redoubtable will prove interesting - and interesting indeed it is, while yet remaining something of an oddity.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Louis Garrel,  Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Micha Lescot, Grégory Gadebois, Félix Kysyl, Arthur Orcier, Marc Fraize, Emmanuelle Aita.

 

Dir Michel Hazanavicius, Pro Michel Hazanavicius, Florence Gastaud and Riad Sattouf, Screenplay Michel Hazanavicius, based on the book Un an après by Anne Wiazemsky, Ph Guillaume Schiffman, Art Dir Christian Marti, Ed Anne Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, Costumes Sabrina Riccardi.

 

La Classe Américaine/Les Compagnons du Cinéma/Studiocanal/France 3 Cinéma/Forever Group/ Canal+/Ciné+-Thunderbird Releasing.
108 mins. France/Myanmar. 2017. Rel: 11 May 2018. Cert. 15.