‘Film Socialisme’ is vapid, shallow and pretentious

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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

  1. Manno says

    The reviewer is rigth. I walked out of the movie after one hour and 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back. This film is simply not watchable. It is like looing inside the brain of a non-cohearant person.

  2. Josh Youngerman says


    You would like this film. :) No joke when I walked out of the film, the first thing that came to my mind is Justine would like this.


    I am all for experimentation in film. However this movie is boring. Baraka, an actual documentary, covers similar ground but is so much better. Baraka is probably in my top 20 of all time.

    Also Godard’s Weekend is another good example of a movie that covers teh same ground. Also, while he never made Breathless again, how can you say his later films were not inspired by American genre films? Alphaville, Pierrot le Fou, Made in U.S.A. (one of my personal favorites), even Tout va bien to a certain extent.

  3. Justine says

    I don’t think this film is great, but I like it. It’s rhythmic and visually engaging. I won’t pretend to understand it, but I think it works on some level. It has beautiful images, an engaging montage style and great sound design.

  4. Wotan says

    I agree with Garrett. This is a terrible review of what very well maybe a terribly flawed film, but your critique shows no intelligence or understanding of the film maker at hand.

    Godard stopped making films like Breathless the minute he stopped maing Breathless. His films from then on became infinitely more experimental, and often demanding of the viewer. He is not looking to entertain because too many films do this.

    I personally feel this film doesn’t work well because it is ultimately too radical in it’s politics and as you mentioned, rather anti-semitic and these ideas preached at us and equally in Notre Musique. I was hoping for a return to In Praise of Love where there was a more reflective tone.

    But glad to see he is still aggravating.

  5. Josh Youngerman says

    Watch the film. Weekend is a great film and yes it is an experimental film but it is also quite entertaining. It isn’t boring. This film bored me to tears. Also what I said is that Godard’s film were heavily inspired by American Genre films, something he freely admits.

  6. garrett says

    “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. ”

    replace Film with “my review.” Why?

    Well, your review sucks, that’s why. I’m more willing to see JLG’s Socialisme than to ever come back to sound on sight.

    “It’s as if Jeff Daniels character from The Squid and the Whale made a film.”

    This line, which caught my eye on the IMDB news feed (only reason I’m here) is ripped off from Pauline Kael’s review on 2001, except her’s made sense and she expanded on it, more than leaving a dull and somewhat confusing sentence on a film that not many people know about with a character that’s not memorable or as iconic, as say, Thomas in Blow-Up.

    Be more willing to a film rather than judge it on your own impulsive preoccupations, judge it for itself; it is in the spirit of French New Wave, the period that film was restructured — not everyone in the New Wave was preoccupied with American films, and even that influence wasn’t as large as you imply(read a book on New Wave instead of the back of your Breathless Criterion for reference). This is an attempt at experimentalism, which you dismiss as pretentious and dumb. There’s more to it than that; your attempt to review, honestly, is dumber than this film. Look deeper; stop judging off a first impulse, use your fucking head. Your review comes off as impatient, without justification other than opinions formed on an ADHD impulsive basis. — your whole paragraph about the film’s antiplot is what Weekend is championed for. Your writing isn’t concise, but vague, and not elaborated upon, and judgmental instead of understanding.

    I don’t know — what I am getting is, without seeing this film, and reading your blasphemous review on it, I am more likely not to ever return to this blog than to not watch JLG’s Socialisme. Rather than preoccupy yourself with Breathless in this review, or any of JLG’s next movies, try to focus on the film at hand instead.

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