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Breathless


BREATHLESS
(1960, Godard)
A film from the Criterion Collection whose number includes the #4 (#408)



"Say something nice."
"Like what?"
"I don't know."

That's part of the flirting back and forth between the main characters of Jean-Luc Godard's first film. This is peppered between existential conversations, talks about past lovers, ambitions, goals, and the occasional lies. And even though there's an obvious attraction, they just don't seem to be in the same wavelength; they don't jive. Which more or less explains how I felt while watching this film.

Breathless follows Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a small-time but dangerous criminal who is on the run after shooting a cop. Desperate, he seeks refuge with Patricia (Jean Seberg), a former love interest that is an aspiring journalist in Paris. Even though she doesn't know much about Michel, his past, or even that he's on the run, she still spends most of the film resisting his romantic advances or dancing around the idea of being with him, as they wander carefree around Paris.

Breathless was released in 1960 and is considered as one of the earliest examples of French New Wave cinema. Its revolutionary editing and use of jump cuts, as well as the overall visual style are worth noting. Godard's handling of the camera on several continuous shots is also pretty neat and impressive. Belmondo and Seberg's performances aren't that bad either.

But like Patricia and Michel, I found myself falling in and out of it all through. First, Michel is, by his own admission, "an a$$hole". But more important than that, I didn't think his story was interesting at all. He's just a thief waiting to meet someone that owes him money, and that's it. So what we're left is with his interactions with Patricia, and even though there are a couple of interesting lines about philosophy and existentialism, as a whole, it doesn't amount to much in terms of a story that could've grabbed me.

Overall, I can appreciate Breathless place in film history as well as some of its technical aspects, and it's a good checkbox to tick off my list. But to be honest, if you ask me to say something nice about it, I don't know.

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