"There She Goes.."
M. G. Chandler | Dublin 16 Ireland | 07/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The New Wave has been assessed in every intellectual capacity, and using every aesthetic criterion imaginable, but what makes the New Wave the most beguiling of cinematic phenomenon is that, in essence, it is a declaration of the love of cinema, through cinema itself.
AWOMAN IS A WOMAN ("Une Femme est une Femme"), Godard's third film, is as much a milestone as his own "Breathless" two years earlier. The basic premise is effectively that of a kitchen sink drama; an exotic dancer's (Anna Karina) whim to have a baby is met with consternation by her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy), who is further dismayed when she asks a mutual friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to act as a surrogate father.
But the neo-realist background gives way to a film shot in bold, giddy colours and synchronised to Legrand's harebrained soundtrack - A WOMAN IS A WOMAN is best described as a musical with no singing. Actors frequently affect choreographed like stances and positions, their conversations punctuated with overtly dramatic interventions from Legrand's score. Our heroine expresses her desire to appear in an American musical, "with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse", before adopting the relevant deportment for the approval of the audience, who are constantly consulted, bowed to, winked at and cavorted with by actors revelling in front of Godard's lens.
It is Godard's preference for the actor, in favour of the character, that makes A WOMAN IS A WOMAN an unparalleled experience in spontaneity. Filmed without a script, the actors wear their own clothes and concoct their own dialogue. Belmondo in particular frolics in the new-found fame gifted to him by Godard, expressing his wish to be present when "they're showing Breathless on television", and grinning at the audience as he namedrops new acquaintance Burt Lancaster. Later, he meets Jeanne Moreau in a bar, and asks her "how JULES ET JIM is coming along".
And it is with Truffaut's masterpiece that A WOMAN IS A WOMAN shares its essential raison d'être - the embodiment of femininity through a dazzling and formidable singularity, in this instance Anna Karina, whose whims, mood-swings and impetuosity are her right and privilege as a woman, as all women. "Women have a right to dodge issues, men don't", she tells Brialy, shortly after decreeing the stupidity of modern women, "these women who imitate men". A smile turns to a frown or a tear in the blink of an eye, and back again just as quickly, in an infectiously joyful and touching performance that is among cinema's most engaging. Karina, the new wave bride, worked with husband Godard on seven of his greatest films, but it is this wonderful and dizzying cinematic cocktail that is Godard's most translucent love poem to an extraordinary actress touched by an impulsive genius and unique beauty.
Along with JULES ET JIM, Jacques Demy's LOLA and Godard's own BAND A PART, A WOMAN IS A WOMAN is the most energizing and uplifting of all New Wave films. Both gleeful and baffling, it is essentially summed up by Brialy himself, who towards the film's delightful conclusion declares: "I don't know if this is a comedy or a tragedy, but it's a masterpiece"
Jean-Luc Godard re-invents cinema once again...
M. G. Chandler | 06/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can Godard's sixties films be anything less than sensational ? " A Woman is a Woman " remains one of his most magnificent, a dazzling cinematic hymn to the Hollywood musical, and a celebration of his then wife, Anna Karina. Karina plays Angela, a nightclub stripper who yearns for a baby. Her practical boyfriend, Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) insists that they marry first, and in her frustration she turns to Emile's friend, the romantic Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo)...Seldom has the old cliché of the love triangle been filmed with such verve and innovation, and the movie is funny, tragic, happy and sad, and ultimately triumphant. The performances are wonderful. Brialy is fine as the boyfriend torn between his love for Angela and his stubborn pragmatism and Belmondo is typically cool, complete with customary cigarette permanently dangling from his mouth. Both male leads are peripheral however, for this is Karina's movie, as she examines the complexities of life and the difficulties of being a woman.Technically, Godard is at his most playful, employing his usual array of stunning cinematic devises - there are visual gags galore, fluid tracking shots, Raoul Coutard's garish photography ( Godard's first film in colour ), a soundtrack of deliberately exaggerated big band music that seeming appears and disappears at any given moment, and the kind of referential cinema that Godard loves. There are nods towards Francois Truffaut and his films " Jules et Jim " and " Shoot the Piano Player " and at one point Belmondo mentions a screening on TV of " Breathless ", Godard's groundbreaking first feature.Like nothing you've ever seen before, " A Woman is a Woman ", is a time capsule no doubt, but definitely a masterpiece for all time..."
To be re-released by Criterion
none | Goleta, CA United States | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Woman is a Woman should be re-released by the Criterion Collection in the 2nd half of 2004. Save your money from buying the expensive Fox-Lorber version."
A glorious celebration of life!
Rodney Luck | Greensboro, NC | 06/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you watch "A Woman is a Woman" you enter a cinematic fantasy world created by Godard, one of our most inventive filmmakers. It is a world filled with color, music, humor, heartbreak, fluid tracking shots, creative editing and groundbreaking audio tracks. When you watch films like Coppola's "One from the Heart" or the recent "Moulin Rouge" you can instantly see how much "A Woman is a Woman" influenced those films. The big difference is Godard's film was made in 1961! Years ahead of it's time. The acting from Brialy, Belmondo and Karina is nothing short of brilliant. They play off of each other so well and look like they're having a marvelous time thru-out the film. The music score by Michel Legrand is one of the highlights of the viewing experience. There are so many musical interludes that pay homage to Hollywood musicals and at moments grand opera. They're just breathtaking! But remember, this is Godard's version of "life as musical." The actors don't break into song at any given moment. The musical score accents their dialogue as if they were in a musical, operatic production. In reading the other reviews posted here I am shocked to see people write the film off as a piece of boring fluff. If you keep an open mind and allow yourself to enter the world created by Godard in "A Woman is a Woman" you will be greatly rewarded. You'll wish you could go back in time and be on the streets of Paris sharing Anna Karina's red umbrella!"