In Praise of Love Screen 9 articles

In Praise of Love

2001

In Praise of Love Poster
  • More distressing than the filmmaker's (frequently justifiable) cynicism is his complete lack of interest in human beings as anything other than abstract mouthpieces for whatever happens to be on his mind that day. In Praise of Love is the cinematic equivalent of Finnegans Wake: a dense thicket of ideas in which all but the most hardy and tenacious travelers are bound to become lost and frustrated.

  • Accepting how Godard actually made it – i.e., with rather more care and premeditation than I was initially willing to allow him in my mind – opens the distinct possibility that the result is a good deal more coherent than I first thought in my viewing experience of 2001. . . . I see it better today: the film is all about connecting the personal story (of love, family, the working life of an artist, whatever) to the larger history of forces and relations that frame it and bear down on it.

  • Jean-Luc Godard's In Praise of Love is tactile yet elusive—its tragic grandeur is as graspable as running water and as shifty as smoke. Like the earliest motion pictures, Godard's new feature appears like a fact of nature or a great, unselfconscious beauty. There's a narrative—and an argument—here, but what's moving first, and also finally, is the movie's mournful celebration of its sensuous being.

  • ...Godard’s black-and-white sequences represent the present (even as they recall the black and white of his early-60s features), and color video represents the past. Godard’s eulogy for both periods is above all an expression of respect for the truth that lies beyond the more comforting, more palatable images we manufacture. It’s a eulogy given more in sorrow than in anger as he looks without blinking at the wreckage of the contemporary world, but it also glows with the recollection of a smile.

  • No one seemed to notice that Godard's biggest target appears to be Godard himself. Indeed, to loathe the film is to get in the way of analyzing it critically... In Praise of Love is, once one clears away the vitriol and the artistic conceits, the heartbreaking portrait of an aging film director unsure if his life's work wasn't maybe a prolonged bout of solipsism.

  • Lives up to the promise of its title: one of the most unusual, tremulous, and understated of love stories, as well as the story of love itself; a depiction of history in the present tense, as well as a virtual thesis on the filming of history; a work of art, as well as the story of the work at the origin of art; Godard’s third first film, thus something of a rebirth of cinema.

  • The landscape of history becomes Godard's most essential character. At the film's end, Berthe reminds this new man she meets of the significance of the image in addition to sound, "The image, monsieur, alone capable of denying nothingness, is also the gaze of nothingness upon us." In ELOGE DE L'AMOUR, the Swiss poet's hope still lies in cinema.

  • What’s still confounding to me is that even 13 years later so few other filmmakers are as attuned to the broad capabilities of digital, what it can do beyond affecting easy verisimilitude or documentary-style immediacy. Yet it’s that connection to verisimilitude, even stronger now than it was at the time this was released, that makes Godard’s twisted presentation of the past so effective in disrupting any concept of a cinema that isn’t founded entirely on illusions.

  • Working against standard cinematic shorthand, Godard frames the black-and-white section of the narrative as the present day and the colour half as an extended flashback. Godard instead uses these forms for emotional purposes, conjuring a sense of a present that is overshadowed by longing for things past, and a past that seems more emotionally immediate for the film’s protagonist than the immediate moment.

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