Jean-Luc Godard has produced a film of miraculous flatulence, aggressive opacity and brain-defeating boredom.
Marking the point where an era-defining legend passes into irrelevance, Film Socialisme is, for all the wrong reasons, an important historical moment in cinema.
The octogenarian Jean-Luc Godard has produced a film of such miraculous flatulence, such aggressive opacity and tone-deaf boredom that the only sensible response is to wince and look away in embarrassment. Screened in Cannes in 2010, it may have had its share of ardent (one might say desperate) defenders, but the smattering of self-conscious laughter in the Salle Debussy was outweighed by the creak of seats as people upped and left the theatre.
Described as a ‘symphony in three movements’, what transpires on screen is a meaningless babble of snatched conversations – many of them in untranslated French – in a series of stilted tableaux captured aboard a cruise ship and sundry other transient locations.
They might, in sum, stitch together to form an adolescent critique of ‘contemporary life’. And yet Godard is a man out of time, a director unmoored from the world and the medium he used to love so much. Gone is the furious passion and purpose, replaced by a cantankerous stubborn streak and an apparent belief that abusing your audience’s intelligence is the same thing as radical cinematic non-conformity.
On the plus side, the opening titles typography is very cool indeed.
Godard’s name still carries weight around these parts.
It’s about as fun as a slap in the face. Which is more or less what Film Socialisme is.
It’s a sad spectacle. Consign the filmmaker to history and his film to the bin.