Breathless (1960)

















"Breathless" is said to be the first 'modern movie'—whatever that is. This means that noir is ditched and more realistic themes that try to convey everyday life are accentuated...and, of course, there's love. Whether or not it is the first or the second or even the three-hundredth, "Breathless" is a great movie, pure and simple.
The story reminded me of a tamed version of Scorsese because it appears to be one of the first true gangster/crime films.  Michel is a man whose brain is stuck in the adolescent world. He likes to drive fast, he loves women, he hates cowardice, and he's a petty thief—he likes to remain in control. When he steals a car and drives it too fast so that the police take notice, he gets flustered and kills one of the cops. Now on the run with no money he tries to track down a friend who owes him.
He's also involved with Patricia, an American in Paris who works for the New York Herald Tribune. Patricia is the completion to him and he to her but neither of them are mature enough to admit that. Love is something that frightens them and instead of pushing cowardice aside as Michel would like, he finds himself stuck between desire and caution.
Michel craves Patricia and she resists him for a while but he can be both charming and annoying—so eventually she gives in to his persistences. While "Breathless" might seem like an action and crime movie it actually gives way to some incredibly interesting scenes that ask questions that are deceivingly simple like 'what is love?'.
I find that this movie is more about love than anything else. It's also about right and wrong and the consequences that happen to us when we wound the ones that we 'love'.
The technique that the director Jean-Luc Godard use predates many other directors like Gus Van Sant, Scorsese himself, and even Christopher Nolan. The quick edit cuts are the first of their kind and Tarantino takes some of his cues from this movie.
As revolutionary as this film really is, it still takes a lengthy time to ground the two main characters in such a great way. Jean Seberg as Patricia and Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel are sensational as the leading couple. Their chemistry is so great that it just could be unrivaled.
The only thing that I'm not sure about in "Breathless" is the title itself, at the ending I was pretty sure I was certain why it was called what it was but after a few minutes it didn't satisfy. The film in French is originally titled "À bout de souffle" which translates to "at breath's end" which is a much better title.
The jazziness of the script and the surprising connection that one feels with the characters are what pull off this movie.
Some shots of Paris are enough to remind us that Jean-Luc Goddard preceded Woody Allen and other dialogue moments that remind us that he also predated Aaron Sorkin.
"Breathless" is fascinatingly gripping. I could hardly take my eyes off the screen.


Score: 4 out of 4 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment