Breathless (1960), or Truly At Breath’s End

6 02 2009
It looks like she is about to eat him, her giant mouth right near his head...

It looks like she is about to eat him, her giant mouth right near his head...

Hey there, all. Another day, another review. I bet you did not know this about me, but when I’m not watching Double Dragon or Bangkok Dangerous I am actually somewhat of a serious film connoisseur. Or, if you wish to call me by my given name, FILM SNOB!!!! That’s right, I’ve been living amongst you this whole time with a crocodile grin and miles of snark. You let me into your home, completely oblivious, thinking we could watch Transformers together and have a good time. Well, you were wrong, and I was wrong to fool you, but our kind can never be together. You are too drawn to special effects and one-liners, and I am too drawn to high drama, experimental European art films, and hardcore porn directed by David Lynch (no, that doesn’t exist. Yet…). So, as a FILM SNOB, there are certain movies that should be prerequisites for me. The 400 Blows, Last Year At Marienbad, Woman In The Dunes; all great movies, all primed for a PSA in the near future. But one I have never seen is from the godfather of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard. Breathless might be his most famous movie, but it has been one that has eluded my grasp. Today, after watching this one, I feel like a full-fledged FILM SNOB! Yay! Now I can use this information to go get beat up at a redneck bar, bore potential friends into never talking to me again, and ostracizing myself from the film community at large! Life is truly wonderful.

Breathless is the story of Michel and Patricia. Michel is a punk, plain and simple. Not only that, but he is violent and useless. A waste of space is the best way to describe him. While stealing a car one day (what a guy), he is followed by a police officer. He does the most logical thing, which is of course to shoot the police officer(!!). He has nowhere to turn, being a useless punk, except for his American girlfriend Patricia. She is a loving spirit who sells the New York Herald Tribune in Paris (?). He asks to stay with her and, not knowing exactly how much of a dirtbag the guy is, she accepts the proposition. The majority of the movie is spent in Patricia’s apartment, where Michel, hiding from the agitated police, spends his days calling in a loan to make a hasty escape and his nights with Patricia in a lusty haze. Will Michel be caught? Will Patricia find out what Michel really is?

WONDERFUL! This movie is amazing! I have nothing but good things to say about this movie. I have never been so intoxicated by a movie before. These are real people this movie makes, far more interesting than your average glossy photo of a human being that most movies give you. Jean-Paul Belmondo is Michel, and you feel he is a flesh-and-blood hoodlum. You have no idea when you are watching this that this is not a real person. Just the right flourishes make this person breathe, and only a master artist can do something like that. Patricia is Jean Seberg, and she makes me smile through the entire run-time. She is amazing as the loving, doting girlfriend.

This is Jean-Luc Godard’s first feature! Spectacular! I cannot believe that on someone’s first time they hit it out of the park like this, but it happens here. The direction is a breath of fresh air, and the French New Wave feels like it is in full-swing as you find yourself deeper and deeper into these films. Film-makers crafting films for the youthful, intelligent, and hip; it makes you feel like you’re in on the excitement no matter what age or gender you are. Little touches with the dialog, written primarily by Godard, are the highlight. My favorite line is the probably the most popular: “When we talked, I talked about me, you talked about you, when we should have talked about each other.” The visuals are bold and exciting, and jump cuts were very innovative for the time.  Black and white has rarely been used as romantically. It is like watching clean and dirty have a relationship together, living in the same crowded apartment. The movie just feels as young and vital and desperate as the characters.

This one has it all; romance, intrigue, highly charged dialog, superb acting, artful direction. What more could you want? The French know how to make a romantic, funny, slightly wistful thing, and they make it here to top-notch perfection. I have not yet said this, and I was not expecting to give this rating so soon, but I have been given no choice. By the power vested in me as a full-fledged FILM SNOB, I give Breathless 10 panic-stricken police shootings out of 10! A perfect score! I love this movie! I know I am a FILM SNOB, but surely as a normal, decent person unlike me you can still appreciate this one for what it is, which is wonderful.

See you tomorrow, for a surprise flick! You’ll never guess what it is!