The undisputed empress of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda, has gotten plenty of well-deserved time in the spotlight lately, so maybe it makes sense that her spotlight has begun to widen and include some of her contemporaries—among them, of course, Jean-Luc Godard—again. Fresh from the Palm d’Or competition at Cannes, Godard, Mon Amour will be in theaters beginning April 20th, joining a long legacy of films about (male) artists that struggle with their craft and personal lives, and the women who love them. It’s a cinematic tradition that just this past year has seen two major additions: Mother! and Phantom Thread. But where these movies take fictional creators as their subjects and seem in some ways to be a means for catharsis and clarity on the part of their makers, Godard, Mon Amour is a horse of a different color: a dramatized portrait of a real-life artist defined by the recollections of his intimate partner.
Godard had three great loves: Anna Karina, Anne Wiazemsky, and Anne-Marie Miéville (notice a pattern?) who were all also, in varying ways and degrees, his collaborators. This film is inspired by the memoirs of Anne W., who was with him during a period of profound change in the director’s…uh, direction, a change that reflected the larger zeitgeist of protest and worldwide political and social upheaval in the late 1960s. And the trailer, which draws a funky, spirited line from Wiazemsky and Godard’s love affair to the fomentation of resistance in the streets, manages to take a subject that could easily feel tired or retrograde and give it a fresh prescience for these likewise cataclysmic times. Plus, it’s just got that ineffable and effortless stylishness that feels utterly, essentially French! You know what we mean. Striped shirts, cigarettes, ennui, that sort of thing.
Godard, Mon Amour is directed by Michel Hazanavicius, best known for a little Academy-Award-winning picture called The Artist. But he’s also the mind behind the delightfully dastardly OSS 117: Lost in Rio and OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. Like a more highbrow and politically pointed mélange of Austin Powers, James Bond, and Inspector Clouseau, OSS 117 is a vehicle for parodying the Eurospy genre, which is ripe for it. The sort of gentle, in-on-the-joke send-up of masculinity typified by the OSS 117 series is the same quality that Hazanavicius brings to Godard, who in this trailer exudes a kind of intensity and intelligence that also somehow acknowledges its own absurdity. That’s a credit to actor Louis Garrel, who nails the nuances of such a portrayal with ease. We haven’t read the original source material, but Hazanavicius makes Wiazemsky’s reminiscences of that relationship seem clear-eyed and fair, fond but realistic. We can’t wait to hear what Godard himself, now eighty-seven and still at it, thinks of the way Godard, Mon Amour memorializes him!
Do you love previews? We sure do! Join us every Thursday for hot takes on the coolest Coming Attractions (popcorn not included). In case you missed it, last week’s column reviewed the trailers for the Mister Rogers doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and the highly-anticipated “RBG”!