UK Release Date: 11th May 2018
Runtime: 106 minutes
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writer: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Micha Lescot
Synopsis: The story of lauded filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and his relationship with a young actress during a time of political upheaval in the 1960s.
Ask people to name the Best Picture Oscar winners from the last five or six years and the one they will probably struggle to recall the most is The Artist. Michel Hazanavicius‘s tender homage to the silent movie era is, if not a masterpiece, then something very close, but it has largely disappeared from the consciousness of the masses since its charming run on the awards circuit. Hazanavicius has since failed to capture much attention, but will be hoping to change that with Redoubtable, which tells the story of celebrated French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard during his marriage to actress and muse Anne Wiazemsky in the late 1960s.
The problem is that Redoubtable is like walking into a sophisticated party where everybody is swilling Merlot and jabbering excitedly about something you don’t really know all that much about. Just as My Little Pony: The Movie and the three Fifty Shades of Grey movies are baffling to those outside of the fanbase, Redoubtable is an incomprehensible nightmare to anyone without intimate knowledge of La Nouvelle Vague.
Louis Garrel plays Godard, who is permanently in a terrible mood despite the fact that people stop him every few seconds to tell him that he’s a genius. At the peak of his sycophantic entourage is Anne (Stacy Martin), who mostly exists in the film to deal with Godard’s philosophical outbursts and general sense of exasperation that the world doesn’t quite think he’s a genius in the way that he wants them to. To say it’s tough to sympathise with Garrel’s Godard is an understatement and, indeed, it probably comes down to your appreciation for the real filmmaker. He’s like The Social Network take on Mark Zuckerberg, but without the inherent spark of an Aaron Sorkin script.
Redoubtable isn’t entirely lacking in that energy and there are moments when its clever-clever sense of humour does pay dividends. Garrel often breaks the fourth wall with a wry look to camera, most notably in an early monologue about the stupidity of actors and how they would even be willing to deliver a line about how stupid actors are. A later nude scene is set up to critique unnecessary nude scenes and it’s in these moments of playful silliness that Hazanavicius finds some of the clear cinephile joy that made The Artist so eminently and undeniably lovable.
Garrel and Martin deliver decent performances in the lead roles and there’s a nice supporting part for Artist alum Bérénice Bejo, but none of that is enough to elevate the movie from the pit of its own pretension. For all of its silly flourishes and moments of joy, Redoubtable still spends much of its time telling Godard how clever he is while indulging endless ramblings about politics and philosophy. It’s so enamoured with navel-gazing that it has a mouthful of belly button fluff.
Pop or Poop?
If you’re a huge fan of Jean-Luc Godard and the European politics of the 1960s, then Redoubtable might be the cinematic gift for you. However, for any Godard sceptic or someone without great familiarity with his work, it comes across as an indulgent exercise in pretentious, sycophantic nonsense from a filmmaker who has seen his peak pass him by.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.