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Archive for November 17th, 2013

by Mike Norton

Opening with a shot of a man and a woman at a bar with their backs turned to us establishes the realism of Vivre sa vie right off the bat. That woman is Nana (Anna Karina), an aspiring actress who is about to experience a downward spiral through society that happens in so many character study films. It’s apparent to the viewer here that Nana’s dreams of making it as an actress are just that. By refusing to shoot her in the way a conventional screen actress might be shot in an opening scene, and robbing her of her close up, Godard basically condemns Nana, setting forth her tragic character arch that is portrayed in 12 tableaux throughout the film. Indeed, this is a very self-reflexive film, subtly so, brimming with references to past movies, philosophy, and politics. It’s not as apocalyptic in its reinventing of cinema language as later Godard films would be since here Godard does take a good deal of interest in his main character, making Vivre sa vie one of his most humane films. Yet it’s also meta-reflexive, fascinatingly bringing reality to cinema and creating a new reality out of past cinema, while also showcasing the young auteur’s developing visual style and command over the sound design. If there’s any Godard film that makes for a good entry point in the director’s admittedly distancing filmography, it might be this. (more…)

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