Making a movie about how you don’t really know your wife, by having her become a prostitute, is quite a choice.

france, 1962, french


Vivre sa vie

We are once again back in it’s-been-a-bit-too-long-since-I-saw-this territory. I don’t even know why I mention it, other than so that when I’m rereading this someday I’ll give myself a gentle pass for whatever comes next. But, anyway, I saw this about a week ago now, and it’s gently faded from the front of my brain.

I read in the booklet that came with this, that it’s about Godard’s relationship with his wife, star of the film Anna Karina. He felt like he didn’t understand her, that although he loved her, he didn’t know her. It strikes me as a particularly French sensibility. What does it really mean to “know” somebody anyway?

His response to this unknowableness, is to make her an avatar for all women. And his response to that is to have her character descend into prostitution, despair, and early death. That’s quite a move there. It’s definitely a statement about something, although, as always with Godard, I can’t quite figure out what.

I think that’s ultimately what I both love and hate about his films. His movies are about being movies, and that gives them an eternal lack of depth. They pretend to have depth, but it’s always just a mirror reflecting itself endlessly. Ultimately his movies are about an image more than a reality, and as such they struggle to say anything meaningful at all.

What they do achieve at their best is a feeling of something. At that point it’s really just whether that feeling resonates with me or not. This one didn’t, but I absolutely adore Anna Karina, so I’m not that mad about it.