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Masculine Feminine

(Masculin-féminin)
France 1966. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Chantal Goya, Marlène Jobert, Michel Debord, Catherine-Isabelle Duport

Godard is in full glory in the marvellous, essential Masculine Feminine, a disquisition on youth, sex, politics, sexual politics, and pop culture presented as a 15-point investigation into “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola” during “the era of James Bond and Vietnam.” Centring on young Left Bank Parisians in the winter of 1965, the film has Truffaut’s alter-ego Jean-Pierre Léaud — “in his first grown-up and still finest performance” (Armond White) — doing an Antoine Doinel-like turn as Paul, who’s just out of the army and in love with Madeleine (Chantal Goya), an aspiring pop singer. Paul’s attempts to remain true to his youthful ideals prove difficult in a consumer society in which everything is commodified. Godard’s lively, inventive, eternally fresh film mixes cinéma vérité-style analyses of male-female relations, a wicked parody interview with a teenage beauty queen, random urban violence, a Brigitte Bardot cameo, philosophy, advertising, and youthful awkwardness and ennui. And, said Pauline Kael, Godard gets the way boys and girls are with each other. “Timeless ... More prophetic than ever ... Godard's insight into the moods and idioms of coming-of-age in the metropolitan West remains unsurpassed” (A. O. Scott, New York Times). B&W, 35mm, in French with English subtitles. 110 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"Using neither crime nor the romance of crime but a simple romance for a kind of interwoven story line, Godard has, at last, created the form he needed. It is a combination of essay, journalistic sketches, news and portraiture, love lyric and satire."

Pauline Kael | full review

"One of the quintessential '60s foreign art films, a bizarre melange of pop music, revolution, sex, movie allusions and poetry."

Chicago Tribune | full review