Redoubtable tells a tale which I’d never come across before, showing the relationship in the late ’60s between French film director Jean-Luc Godard (Louis Garrel) and his muse, Anne Wiazemsky, from start to finish since, while she’s approaching 20, he’s in his late 30s. What can go wrong?!
He thinks he knows everything. She’s young and impressionable and, thus, idolises him, hence she doesn’t mind about posing for pictures for him in the buff – cue a perfect Stacy Martin (Nymphomaniac Vol I. & Vol II.).
After getting across, early on, “I like doing what other people don’t do. Everything which isn’t allowed, or isn’t the done thing. Precisely because no-one else does it”, while also taking about himself in the third person, he comes across as being really up his own arse, and quite rude to some people. That said, he speaks his mind and I like that. I really should watch some of his films. That said, given his arrogance, it’s no surprise that the Chinese don’t like his then-latest film, 1967’s La Chinoise.
However, as well as being part-drama, it’s also part-comedy. There were occasional moments where Godard breaks the fourth wall with the audience, a running joke about continually breaking his glasses, a scene where the typrewriter sound carries on even after he’s actually stopped typing, plus a very amusing scene where he decrys the need for nudity in a film under any circumstance, while she says she’d do it if the script justified it… while both are in the buff, full-frontal!
Along the way, he gets so political, trying to fight the power against De Gaulle, that it drives Anne up the wall, and begins to drive a wedge between them, as he gets over-obsessed. At the same time, while the first third of the film is quite fun, this turn of events started driving a wedge between the film and this viewer. I knew nothing about their relationship beforehand and, after watching this, I looked it up and they were together for 12 years. From this film, and given the lack of changes in appearance over the years, it looks more like two.
It’s sad to learn that Anne passed away last October, from breast cancer, especially as this film was based on her novel about their life together. I wonder if she got to see the cinema film. I hope she enjoyed it if she did. For me, it was rather a mixed bag and didn’t wholly work, but is certainly worth a watch even if, like me, you’ve never seen a minute of Godard’s work.
In France, this film is known as Godard Mon Amour, whereas in most places, it’s Redoubtable, or Le Redoubtable, since the latter is the name of a submarine referenced on a radio newscast, and you’ll learn more about the link with that as you watch the film.
Running time: 107 minutes
Studio: Thunderbird Releasing Ltd
Format: 1.85:1 (35mm)
Released: May 11th 2018
Producers: Florence Gastaud, Michel Hazanavicius and Riad Sattouf
Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius (adapted from the novel “Un an après” by Anne Wiazemsky)
Jean-Luc Godard: Louis Garrel
Anne Wiazemsky: Stacy Martin
Michèle Rosier: Bérénice Bejo
Bamban: Micha Lescot
Michel Cournot: Grégory Gadebois
Jean-Pierre Gorin: Félix Kysyl
Jean-Henri Roger (as Jean-Jock): Arthur Orcier
Emile: Marc Fraize
Bernardo Bertolucci: Guido Caprino
Marco Ferreri: Emmanuele Aita
Marco Margine: Matteo Martari
Jean Vilar: Philippe Girard
Godard cinéma fan: Laurent Soffiati
Paul: Quentin Dolmaire
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.