Breathless (1960) Review
No doubt the Corr’s song Breathless did leave everyone breathless and… wait, what site is this?
Movie Monks – Honest to God Reviews – movie reviews.
I don’t mean the Breathless by the Corrs! What I meant was Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard.
This French movie is the definition of the French New Wave Cinema back in the 1950s.
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg – like you I don’t know who these people are.
Breathless is not some winding, gritty tale of crime or some wonderful romance tale. This is a story of life at its simplest and how two people are trying to get by. One character is a no-good louse thief, robber and fraudster. The other is a no no-good louse American woman who captures the heart of the thief. And in this tale, the police are hot on the heels of the catch thief.
This is simply a beautiful tale of two people, everything in-between, well, is just life.
What shots? Those shoots damn it. You still have to watch the movie you say? Well, it’s still ‘those shoots’.
Jean-Luc Godard pulls you in the movie with such captivating cinematography. It’s just plain intense, bringing you close to the action and personalisation of the characters on screen. Each shot communicates the intensity of the two characters through their facial expressions and body language.
Breathless defines the New French Wave. Be prepared for some very raw shots. No lighting, not so much attention mis- en-scene, it could be mistaken as a documentary if it wasn’t for the story. The entire movie was shot on a handheld camera.
The only reason Breathless held my attention – the music. Black and white movies… I almost wished that they had colour. The music did that. It added colour to a black and white film and held my attention till the very end.
The musical composition is perfect or Perfetto… I mean parfait! That’s French for prefect.
From the deepest moments to those tense maniacal ones to the ones of truest love, the right music plays to keep you engrossed. It’s a beautiful mix of jazz, blues and operatic music.
Love/Love is All/Love has to be There/Lovers Never Part/ Loving in Paris/You Get the idea
I think I lied. I’m not sure. Whatever!
Breathless is not about life. It’s about love. Thief says he loves American girl. American girl says she doesn’t love him. Thief keeps telling her, “sleep with me.”
Am I really sure they love each other? No.
What is a French movie without the concept of love?
Maybe that’s why the movie is called Breathless. Their love is tired of breathing and soaking in each other, or are they? Love is such a confusing emotion, never clear, never straight level, full of sacrifices and full of twists and turns on the human heart.
“After all, I’m an asshole. After all, yes, I’ve got to. I’ve got to!“
Are we caught in the crosshairs of own character limits? Or can we break free of that. Can we be more than we are today. These are just some of the things the movie explores from the perspective of the thief. He is our protagonist, he is our villain. And yet, he is so captivating. He tries to act cool, like a macho man portrayed by the films, and yet, he is so human.
The great mystery is the American woman. She.. her… told… Ah. I can’t. No spoilers for you.
The New Wave
What made this a French New Wave film?
Because of these French waves that were there in the film.
Handheld camera. Not lighting. Wheelchair camera to save money.
There is this one shot in the movie, where light filters into the bedroom of the American woman. Just keep your keys for it. Because the Breathless is not reliant on artificial lighting, the dynamic and natural lighting created a beautiful scene.
And it’s French New Wave not only for that. The plot isn’t really tightly woven. This is largely because the script was made on the same day it was shot.
There are so many good reasons to watch Breathless. I can’t convince you anymore.
FYI – listening to the Corrs is not one of the reasons. And, no – the Cors song is not there in the film, so don’t make the same mistake as I did.