Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Chantal Goya, Marlene Jobert, Michel Debord, Catherine-Isabelle Duport, Brigitte Bardot
Written by: Jean-Luc Godard, based on stories by Guy de Maupassant
Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: French with English subtitles
Running Time: 103
Date: 19/03/2013

Masculine Feminine (1966)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Leaud was best known as the sullen romantic Antoine Doniel in Francois Truffaut's five-film cycle. In Masculine Feminine, he stars as the other half of his persona for director Jean-Luc Godard. Ostensibly, the film traces the relationship between left-wing rebel Paul (Leaud) and pop singer Madeleine (Chantal Goya). But as always, Godard uses the story to hang a myriad of sociopolitical ideas and pop culture references upon. No one was ever better at collecting a hodgepodge of ideas and making them work as a cohesive whole, as the voice of one hyper-intelligent, constantly frustrated commentator. The film progresses through 15 chapters, watching as Madeleine rises in her singing career, as Paul earns a living interviewing teen idols, and as they eventually become roommates along with Madeleine's two female friends. Paul tries to impart his taste for Bach and communism on the girls, but they either ignore him or laugh at him. Godard isn't even interested in anything like passion or sex as much as listening to his characters talk. Certainly, this was one of Godard's masterworks made during a period of incredible productivity and quality (beginning with Breathless in 1959 and culminating with Weekend in 1967). As always, it helps to just let the movie wash over you and take in whatever ideas stick -- then see it again. Brigitte Bardot (who had worked with Godard earlier in 1963's Contempt) appears in a cameo, going over a script for her next film.

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