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‘Film Socialisme’ is vapid, shallow and pretentious

‘Film Socialisme’ is vapid, shallow and pretentious

Film Socialisme

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

France, 2010

Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Film Socialisme, is simply a bad film.  In fact, it is the worst film that has been released so far this year, and it demonstrates that, at least at the moment, Godard is completely full of shit.  Don’t get me wrong, Godard has made many masterpieces – Breathless is one of the ten best films of all time – but he has clearly lost it.  The film, if one can even call it that, feels like a lecture made by an over confident grad student who thinks he knows everything about everything and yet he knows nothing.  It’s as if Jeff Daniels character from The Squid and the Whale made a film.

Godard, a curmudgeon, who didn’t show up for the film’s premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, has made a film that is impossible to get a firm grasp on.  It’s almost brilliant in that this is the only film that is opaque in one moment and obvious in the next.

As somebody who has long been a supporter of Godard, he may have just gone off the deep end.  The brilliant thing about a film like Breathless is that, stripped away from it’s social context, it is an entertaining and watchable film.  It is a lot of fun to watch and it feels like Godard is a man who is in love with the movies.  In a way, Film Socialisme couldn’t go more against what the French New Wave stood for.  Godard’s French New Wave films that were inspired heavily from the American genre films of the 50s.  This film is not a film but it is instead an essay or a lecture.

There is no plot to speak of.  It is, save for one 30 minute interminable, stretch, just a series of photographs and disjointed shots.  It is a shame, too, because some of the shots are quite gorgeous, including the one featured on the right.  Godard shot the film digitally and he does take advantage of that during the first part of the film, set on a cruise.  There are some gorgeous images of the sea at nightfall.  Occasionally, there are some Godardian touches of absurdity but they are few and far between.

Film Socialisme feels like a film made by a filmmaker who is out of touch.  It’s pretentious, at some points extremely juvenile, and borders on being anti-Semitic.  Half of the dialogue is presented without subtitles, as if we are supposed to piece together what is being said. It comes across as incredibly shallow. Maybe he did this because he realized how vapid the film actually was and he didn’t want us to know.

Josh Youngerman