Redoubtable Screen 11 articles

Redoubtable

2017

Redoubtable Poster
  • It's essentially unbridled professional jealousy as a motion picture. Here we have French uber-hack Michel Hazanavicius, making a "tribute" to one of the greatest artists of the 20th / 21st century. But of course, underpinning this whole enterprise is Hazanavicius' acute awareness that he is not fit to hold Godard's jockstrap. . . . Redoubtable is what happens when the mediocre envy the truly great. The fact that this film is being presented as "homage" only adds to the perversity.

  • Reportedly, Wiazemsky resisted the idea of Hazanavicius adapting her book until he told her he would make a comedy of it; while her instinct was correct, she has been badly let down. Redoubtable is, as promised, a (mostly leaden) comedy about Wiazemsky’s brief marriage to Jean-Luc Godard, but Wiazemsky’s perspective has been jettisoned entirely – unless of course I somehow missed the chapter dedicated to her younger self’s arse.

  • Reducing Godard to an advertising colour palette of primary reds and blues, LeRedoubtable is a crude, pointless exercise with no comprehension of Godard’s filmmaking, cinema history, or, indeed, life itself. (Just one note suffices: this is a film that aestheticizes the ’68 Paris riots.)

  • The movie plays like a Godard career highlight reel re-shot by film students who know what the master's aesthetic innovations look like but don't understand why he employed them. He turns formal experimentation into empty chicanery. Fawning and lazy, it files the barbs and brilliance of Godard's brazen (and hypocritical) conflict with art and politics, treating his vitriol and his abhorrence for his New Wave films, and those who adored them, as a minor character flaw.

  • Hazanavicius had a choice when taking on such a project: either he could make a Hazanavicius film about Godard, or he could (try to) make a Godard film about Godard. In the end he does both, and thus does neither, as he incoherently alternates between superficially Godardian touches and his own far more conventional approach to filmmaking, concluding with an attempted suicide whose ramped-up melodrama is the polar opposite of Godard’s cinema. In short, the film is a travesty.

  • The movie's critical take on Godard threatened to divide audiences between his fiercest acolytes and those who are convinced he hasn’t made anything watchable since 1967’s “Weekend” (for what it’s worth, I fall into neither category). Still, I can’t imagine even the most diehard Godardian working up enough passion to loathe this self-satisfied pastiche, which has none of the effervescence or stylistic dazzle of Hazanavicius’ Oscar-winning “The Artist.”

  • It’s a little hard to watch a master filmmaker mocked for being self-serious by a director coming off a self-serious turkey called The Search, lambasted at Cannes in 2014. One might see a kind of creative revenge going on: Hazanavicius has his cake and eats it too by taking a wildly experimental and politically fearless filmmaker down a peg, all while directing a successful crowd-pleaser. The Artist, indeed.

  • When the film abandons comedy and takes an abrupt turn into earnest melodrama, playing up the narrative of a romantic tragedy, the tact feels even more disingenuous than it did in The Artist. Hazanavicius co-opts Godard's personal life for cheap prestige-picture sentiment—and insults the auteur's radical style with the most conservative iteration of it conceivable.

  • It's rather a right wing work – highly sceptical and derisive of revolutionary communism, very pro marriage and in favour of the iron-fisted auteur who imposes his vision upon the braying underlings. Even though the film itself is split into chapters with wacky Godardian titles, and it attempts to copy the primary-hued ’60s aesthetic, the story itself is as conventional as it gets. But maybe this is just Hazanavicius abiding by his clear distain for anything that might be deemed experimental?

  • Irreverence isn’t an issue in itself –as Hazanavicius himself decried in an interview, “Godard isn’t God!” But the simplistic approach to this evidently troubled character and the situations he finds himself in reveals in Hazanavicius a total disinterest in the man himself. Instead, what seems to drive the film is an obsession with belittling the auteur and sadistically kicking him while he’s down, by exploiting in the process the sad story of his ex-wife, Anne Wiazemsky.

  • Redoubtable turns out to pretty much merit its title. It’s a dazzlingly executed, hugely enjoyable act of stylistic homage, but also the poignant story of a dysfunctional marriage and an insightful recreation of a critical and contradiction-ridden period of modern French history. Only hardcore Godardians – a pretty unforgiving bunch – would reject it out of hand.

More Links