2022 Blind Spot Series: Breathless (1960)


What I knew going in: That it's arguably Jean Seberg's most popular film

Michel (Jean-Paul Belmando) is a small time thief who makes a big mistake and has to go on the run. He reunites with his friend, an American journalism student living in France, Patricia (Jean Seberg) 

I've been sitting with this movie for a few weeks before writing down my thoughts. I found it incredibly messy. I had read on IMDb that director Jean-Luc Godard didn't have his script finished when he started shooting, and I'd believe that. It's very disjointed....but I didn't hate it? There was something lovely about this movie that I just have trouble putting my finger on. I certainly didn't like Michel, but I adored Patricia. She was the interesting one.

It's funny when a movie does that to you. I might chalk it up to just enjoying French movies in general. It's a beautiful language and it always looks so stylish. I know this was a big deal at the time. It seems it was an art house film that played at major theaters, which didn't happen often. So that's why it's place in film history is so cemented.

Strangely, the movie that I thought about immediately after watching this was an indie I reviewed years ago called All My Friends Are Funeral Singers. The two films have zero in common, but I left them feeling the same way. I understand their messy, but there was something about that messiness that just worked for me. 

Grade: C+

Comments

  1. Messy is a perfect word for this and like you even though it was I didn't dislike it.

    I came to it a bit later in my movie viewing after reading the Jean Seberg bio "Played Out"-a sad sobering read with one of the most heartbreaking covers I've ever seen (it juxaposes a picture of a youthful vibrant teenage Jean and another of the haunted, burnt out husk she was just before her suicide). Before that all I'd seen her in was the megahit "Airport" (which I love, but she hated) and Bonjour Tristesse (an interesting film though I can't say I'd run to watch it again) and was looking to explore more of her work.

    This was my biggest blind spot and where I went first. It has that raw, ragged edge that was revolutionary at the time and Jean is fresh and vivid in it. I've watched it again since that first time and because of that roughness, though it feels very much of its time. there is still a vibrancy to it.

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    1. Vibrancy is a good word for this film. I'm glad I started here with Godard and Seberg, but I clearly have brighter places to go.

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    2. I don't know about brighter places with these two particular artists, though I can't say my familiarity with either's filmographies is deep.

      With Jean drama was her main venue of endeavor, I'm only aware of her appearing in one comedy-The Mouse That Roared which was much more a vehicle for Peter Sellers and required her to look lovely and little else. She made some good films but cheeriness wasn't a feature of any that I've seen.

      Of those I'd recommend:

      In the French Style
      Moment to Moment
      Lilith (a very, very dark psychological drama offers Jean a real showcase role but taking into account her future mental struggles it's a grim watch. It is packed with future stars though-Warren Beatty, Peter Fonda, Gene Hackman, Jessica Walter even Olympia Dukakis in a small role. )
      Let No Man Write My Epitaph-Another dark one, and Jean's role is secondary, but it's a decent film with a terrific Shelley Winters performance.

      Of course being a disaster film junkie I'd recommend Airport-one of the big three star-studded 70's disaster flicks along with The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno-but within the scope of Jean's work it's not major. She did it for the money-she hated both the script and her part-and the near surety of a big hit. Her previous film, "Paint Your Wagon"-a Clint Eastwood musical if you can believe it!, tanked hard both critically and at the box office and she needed to restore some luster to her name.

      With Godard I'm even less familiar. I did love his "Contempt" and "Alphaville" was interesting but the rest of what I've seen (not many) haven't thrilled me and one 1972's Tout Va Bien I absolutely hated despite it starring Jane Fonda.

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    3. Eastwood did a musical? what the actual fuck? lmao.

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    4. And did his own singing!

      Paint Your Wagon is overlong, overblown and sometimes lumbering film (it's not a great movie, I've seen worse though) but does have some truly wonderful songs, They Call the Wind Maria (pronounced Mariah as in Carey) being the most famous and it's sung by an actual singer-Harve Presnell-in the film. Jean's singing was dubbed.

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  2. I'm sorry this didn't work for you but I certainly enjoyed it though it's not favorite film by Godard. That's Vivre sa vie so far. It's a film that is known more for its trick and the fact that it wasn't shot in a studio and broke a lot of the rules of the time rather than its story. There is a minority of people that don't like this film and.... actually prefer the 1983 American remake starring Richard Gere which has its moments though I mainly watch it because his co-star Valerie Kaprisky is often naked in the film (Gere does a brief full-frontal scene as well).

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    1. I think I'm good with never seeing Richard Gere's dick in my life lmao. I'll have to check out Vivre sa vie!

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