Review: Film Socialism

Jean-Luc Godard occupies a position very similar to Woody Allen: you only really like his early fun films yet, no matter how many times he's bored you comatose, you still feel inclined to give him one last chance. And there's always somebody on hand to proclaim his latest film as a return to form.

This one is another formless, shapeless, pointless essay which says nothing about anything but does it enigmati-cally.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Godard was a key exponent of the Nouvelle Vague, a movement of young, impas-sioned film-makers who rejected cinema conventions to express emotions and their political beliefs in imaginative and daring new forms.

The veteran film-maker remains faithful to those beliefs in his latest meditation on life.

The first part is set on a Mediterranean cruise where ordinary documentary people, shot casually on cheap hand-held cameras, try to have a bit of fun while important people in beautifully shot and carefully composed images talk weightily about serious things like Hitler and Palestine.

It is a tradition in Godard, dating all the way back to A Bout De Souffl�, that the middle part will be the dull talky bit and in Socialism this takes place in a garage. Then at the end there's a bombardment of images and text.

It's a kitchen sink job — you get snippets of Derrida, Sartre, Heidegger, Beethoven, Arvo Part, Eisenstein, John Ford, the world and his wife and her thesis on contextual deconstruction.

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Any hope of understanding is hampered by the minimalist subtitling which reduces the on screen spoken language — which consists of various languages — to a few basic words, usually no more than three.

Of all the film's provocations this is both the boldest and the most infuriating. It's as if we, the little people, are not deemed worthy of the master's thoughts; it's a fine turn of events when even a Godard film is dumbing down its content.

Of course all this challenges your tired old preconception of filmmaking and though my tired old preconception could do with a quick kicking, they were quickly able to rebuff its weak challenge and hold their own.

It is not though the incomprehension that annoys, but that the film generates no interest in its mystery.


Director: Jean-Luc Godard

With: Catherine Tanvier, Christine Sinniger, Jean Marc Stehle, Agatha Couture, Mathias Domahidy.

Length: 101 minutes