Jean-Luc Godard Hates Filmmaking
Goodbye to Language is the title of the latest Jean-Luc Godard film, but it may has well have been called Goodbye to Filmmaking, I Hate You and Never Want to See You Again. The film, to be released by Fox in the U.S., screened for the press in Cannes in the afternoon, and with the exception of the most ardent Godard fans/sycophants, the overwhelming reaction was "whatever, man—we've seen this game before." Heck, let's face it, Godard, at age 83, doesn't give a crap anymore about filmmaking; his latest is an unmistakable middle-finger to the film-going public. He was last at the festival in 2010, in the Un Certain regard sidebar, with the equally disappointing but largely stomach-able Film Socialisme. Screened in 3D, yeah 3D (another obvious f-you to the public), Adieu au langage is simply a string of massively color-manipulated and deeply saturated clips and words—it's more the type of experimental film you'd expect to see on an endless loop at a modern-art museum, where, frankly, it'd probably be more fun.
So we see a French couple—she's stunning, tall, a model-type, au natural, and often naked. Her partner is an old dude, honestly pretty lucky to have landed a woman like her, but that's just my id talking. Oh yeah, there's a dog, who's a huge deal in the film. It walks around, nearly getting swept away in a raging river. The man and woman spout aphorisms here and there, referencing the great works of Pound, Faulkner, Dostoevsky. Sound comes in, drops out, and we don't know whether the digital transfer was fucked up or was part of Godard's master plan of angering and confounding his viewers. Oh, how could I have forgotten this? The man poops, and we get hear it—every last little muffled flatulence and toilet-water splash—as he blathers on about how the most honest things are said while people defecating. Right, the dog poops too.
Admittedly, there are some nice visual effects here, most involving typography. In fact, the most impressive 3D trick is with the type overlay in the title cards seen occasionally throughout the film. But it goes without saying (only writing), that Godard, the father of the Novelle Vague—the man responsible for some of the most spectacular and engrossing films ever made—is spent, used up, washed up, off his game, phoning it in. The real question is, If he hates films so much, why is he still making them? We get it. Your point has been made. At this point in his life, he's simply mocking the entire art form.