Breathless

Rated NR

Widely considered Godard’s masterpiece, or the masterpiece of the French New Wave of the ’60s, or perhaps hailed because it teamed Truffaut as scriptwriter and Godard as director, Breathless is the standard bearer for an entire generation of filmmakers. Ostensibly a crime movie focusing on a car thief smoothly played by the eternally hip Jean Paul Belmondo, it’s really more an exploration of the language of film. Exaggerated gestures, stereotyped actions and plot, and cinematography that’s boldly swiped from the American film noir of the ’40s and ’50s make this an intellectually appealing film for the cineaste. On the other hand, the romance (featuring the stunning Jean Seberg in her most famous role) and fast-moving story are designed to bring in those who prefer movies to films. I’ve always found this film to be a bit clumsy in its homage to America and its winking hints about the artificiality of cinema, but it is generally considered a classic, and even if, like me, you disagree with its place in cinema history, that place is securely held. It’s worthwhile to see insofar as it’s an essential element in all conversations about what film can do when it looks at itself.

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