Breathless movie

Movie Review: Breathless

This week Breathless celebrates its 50th anniversary with the release of a restored version in the US. Shot in black and white in the streets, cafes and cheap hotels of Paris, Breathless erased the borders between the studio (no lighting, makeup, costumes, or rehearsals ) and the kind of real world where a con-man like Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) would have an on-again off-gain affair with young inexperienced American Patricia (Jean Seberg).

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless

Michel, a cop-killer, has the shrug of a cynic whos given up on everything except seducing the pretty over-confident blonde.  Is he a petty gangster, or is he a mannequin on which Godard can hang endless cinematic allusions? Is the film a celebration of cinema, or a funeral dirge for the romance of filmmaking that Godard believed was over?

Like it or not, Godards apparent despair in Breathless didnt deter generations of filmmakers and fashion designers – it inspired them. Godard went on to make a film about filmmaking called Contempt (Le Mepris), and Breathless became a cool style, with the extended afterlife of a cliche. I imagine that Godard winces when he sees every imitation and fashion spread, but he seems to wince at everything out there.

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