Movie reviews

Masculin Feminin (1966)

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Masculin Feminin is a 1966 French-Swedish film directed by Jean-Luc Godard. It stars Jean-Pierre Leaud, Chantal Goya, Catherine-Isabelle Duport and Michael Debord.

This is a notable film within Godard’s 1960s period of filmmaking, and is considered by critics as a representative of 1960s France and Paris. This film contains references to many pop culture icons and political figures around that time, such as Charles de Gaulle, Andre Malraux, James Bond and Bob Dylan, and it follows Godard’s non-linear filmmaking techniques and narratives. The story is often interrupted by many sequences and sub-plots. There is a scene that is rephrased from LeRoi Jones’ Dutchman. The most famous quotation from this movie is, “This film could be called The Children of Marx and Coca-Cola,” which is actually a title card between parts, or chapters.

This movie stars Jean-Pierre Leaud as Paul, a romantic young idealist and lover of literature who follows pop star, Madeleine (Chantal Goya). Despite their different musical tastes and political beliefs, they soon become romantically involved and begin a ménage a quatre with her two roommates Catherine (Catherine-Isabelle Duport) and Elisabeth (Marlene Jobert).

Due to the portrayal of youth and sex, this film was prohibited to people under 18 in France- “the very audience it was meant for,” complained Godard.

This film to me not only shadows the social and everyday lives of young adults in 1960s France, but also the romantic and the sex lives as well. This film shows how two unlikely characters can fall in love. The camera explores the young characters in a series of verite-style interviews about love, love-making and politics. Many tough issues are approached in this film like, careers, love, sex, politics, war, abortion, fame and suicide.

The characters are portrayed well, but not perfectly. Even though Paul’s affection for Madeleine is very sweet, he is often seen staring at or touching her awkwardly, which can bring an intimate or random scene down. This movie at times is quite slow and some scenes seem to drag on. There are scenes where the camera is on just one character for too long, a few of them run out of things to say, making the scene awkward.

Although I don’t think this film is as good as Godard’s other films, Breathless and Made in the U.S.A., I still find it one of his best with happiness, sadness, pop culture and big issues. 3.5/5

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