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Michel Hazanavicius (director of the breezy, Best Picture winner “The Artist”) returns to Cannes and takes on legendary French New Wave film icon Jean-Luc Godard in his latest film, “Redoubtable.” Bold move. Especially after his previous film, “The Search,” bombed badly at the festival, and didn’t even earn a stateside release. But Godard-worshipers and Hazanavicius-skeptics should keep a couple of things in mind before sharpening their pitchforks. Firstly, the film is a comedy and any analytical inspections of something deeper and more meaningful will only end in scrunched up bits of frustration. Secondly, it’s not really about Godard. It’s not a biopic, nor a commentary on his universal cinematic influence. The film is based on Godard’s ex-wife Anne Wiazemsky’s novel “Un An Apres“(“A Year After“) and focuses on the rise and fall of the couple’s marriage. In essence, Hazanavicius has gone back to being a film geek who plays in his harmless sandbox with subjects that are not way over his head, crafting – for the most part – a pretty delightful popcorn movie for other film geeks.
May 1968 is the pivotal moment in Godard’s history when most of “Redoubtable” takes place, a year after his “La Chinoise” flopped. We first see Jean-Luc (Louis Garrel) and Anne (Stacy Martin) on the set of “La Chinoise,” as their voice-overs tell us about their mutual affection for one another. Once the film starts getting ripped apart by critics and the Chinese government, after debuting at a tiny film festival in Avignon, we approach the month of May in 1968, when Godard begins seriously self-examining himself as an artist, political activist, and self-appointed voice of the working class. Godard becomes a bundle of contradictions: self-deprecating, grossly critical of cinema, obsessing over the de Gaul regime, talking like a Maoist but acting like a...
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