Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Louis Garrel, Anne Wiazemsky
Watch Redoubtable online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema / iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / Virgin Movies / eir Vision Movies / Google Play / Sky Store
Michel Hazanavicius is clearly enjoying himself with this biopic of Jean-Luc Godard, French filmmaker, artistic pioneer and stubborn douche.
It’s the latter of the three that mostly leave an impact in this aptly idiosyncratic biopic, and that’s no accident: the film, which is based on the autobiographical novel Un an après by the late Anne Wiazemsky, works because it’s not afraid to call him out for being those things. This is far from hagiography and all the better for it.
It helps that Louis Garrel is very committed to portraying the pretentious, rude man as both, picking up on the director’s life as he begins to descend into a political, artistic and philosophical meltdown. After filming La Chinoise with Anne in the 1960s, the movie’s reception prompts a serious bout of self-examination, as Jean-Luc becomes convinced that movies don’t matter, and that revolution is the most important thing – a crisis, and conviction, reinforced by the events of May ’68.
But this meltdown mostly manifests itself in a particularly arrogant phase, and Hazanavicius plays it for laughs – his repetitive tirades against society are repeatedly interrupted by fans approaching him in the street, asking when he’ll next make a movie like Breathless, because they prefer his older, better stuff. All the while, Anne is portrayed with fortitude and sympathy by Stacy Martin, making sure that we feel more for her side of the story than his.
The real star, though, is Hazanavicius, who never misses a chance to break out Godardian flourishes and toy with conventions, from inverted images to a hilarious use of nudity. He’s a filmmaker with a real flair for pastiche – see his OSS 117 films with Jean Dujardin – and while this never reaches the impressive heights of The Artist, he’s an artist clearly at home embracing the aesthetics of the French New Wave. The result is a studied, carefree parody that is more intellectual exercise than rounded entertainment, but Redoubtable is undoubtably entertaining from start to finish.