In Praise of Love (2001)
Éloge de l'Amour - In Praise of Love (2001) dir. Jean-Luc Godard

When I last saw Jean-Luc Godard, he was a young French hipster freely blending Brecht, Marx, postmodernism, existentialism, and whatever else was en vogue, and re-inventing film as we knew it.

After the New Wave, Mr. Godard apparently took Marxism a bit too seriously and the quality of his output declined.  In 2001, his purported comeback film, Eloge de l'Amour,  was touted as a new masterpiece by many critics, and a failure by many others.

It was American critics who slammed Eloge de l'Amour the hardest.  (Scott, Ebert, Taylor) October 2001 was the worst possible time to debut a French-made anti-American movie at the New York Film Festival.  So I was curious if how I'd react, seeing it 10 years later.

The anti-Americanism seems more silly than upsetting.  Most of it is directed at Hollywood blockbusters.  And, there's the standard myth about 'Americans don't have a history.'  We're all phonies and sellouts.

The only people who talk like that are 15-year-olds and 80-year-olds.

Perhaps Godard unwittingly fits the theme of his film.  As we're reminded, when you see a young person and when you see an old person, that's what you see first.  "Adulthood," on the other hand, does not exist.

Godard is feeling old and is worried his heroes; Robert Bresson for film and the Resistance for politics; will fade away and be forgotten.  But rather than express this in a dignified lament or, perhaps taking a page from Bergman, by showing the horror of memory to the young, he presents us with a crude, cranky rant.

Yes, yes Mr. Godard, everything was much better when you were young.

In Praise of Love is #972 on the TSPDT 1,000 list I’m blogging through.  I’ve now seen 404.