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Vivre sa vie

(Her Life to Live / My Life to Live / It’s My Life)
France 1962. Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André S. Labarthe, Guylaine Schlumberger, Gérard Hoffman

Susan Sontag described Godard’s Vivre sa vie as “one of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of ... A perfect film.” The director’s fourth feature, and a key work in his artistic evolution, Vivre sa vie has also been called “a passionate celluloid love letter” (Bloomsbury Foreign Film Guide) to Godard’s then-wife Anna Karina. Karina plays Nana, a sales clerk and would-be actress whose descent into prostitution is chronicled in twelve Brechtian tableaux. Carefully, crisply photographed by Raoul Coutard, the film makes rigorous use of direct sound and the long take, and unfolds as a rich, provocative mélange of documentary essay, B-film pulp fiction, and New Wave formalism, with the characteristic wealth of literary and cinematic references along the Godardian way. One memorable scene has Nana/Karina weeping while watching Falconetti in Dreyer’s exquisite The Passion of Joan of Arc. The theme of prostitution and exploitation finds a self-conscious, uncomfortably autobiographical parallel in the director/actress, husband/wife relationship between Godard and Karina. “Godard at his most playful ... A masterpiece of inventiveness that’s as radically mind-blowing today as it was four decades ago” (BBC). B&W, 35mm, in French with English subtitles. 85 mins.

 

REVIEWS

"Jean-Luc Godard's fourth film is a heartfelt, headstrong attempt to push his own concept of a deconstructed cinema even further into the stratosphere."

Time Out | full review

"Godard mixes titles, unusual use of sound, and long scenes of dialog. He is brilliantly served by his wife, Anna Karina, in this film. Karina gives the girl a ring of truth and depth."

Variety | full review