A Woman Is a Woman (1961)













"A Woman Is a Woman" is the follow-up piece to "Breathless" from French director Jean-Luc Godard. It's a movie where not much happens and we reflect on how un-complicated life would be if men could have babies.
Billed as a "musical-comedy", the film is very sporadic. Strictly speaking, it isn't a musical—we have a few songs that play in the background and there is some very mild caroling; but that's like saying "Goodfellas" was a musical. As for the comedy part...regrettably it isn't that either—just because it isn't funny.
Angela (Anna Karina) is a stripper with a free and sorrowful heart. She is a complicated character, one that could just be crazy. She confides in a friend that she hates humanity which is why she is willing to strip-tease—not the most ethical job, but it pays the bills.
Her boyfriend Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy) is the anti-Angela. If she is a morose free-spirit then he is a happy pessimist...essentially they balance each other out.
Prone to temper tantrums and fits of not speaking to each other (they will pick books up and use the titles to insult each other), the couple seems like they survive according to their own time.
But then Angela gets the idea that she wants to have a baby—for what reason? We are never really told. Perhaps it's just a burst of maternal instincts; but anyway, the film goes on...
Émile isn't thrilled with the idea of having a child, he wants to get married before they have kids.
Angela, on the other hand, is determined to impregnate herself by the end of the night. She picks up a self-help knickknack, designed to prey on the unsuspecting, that tells her she is her most fertile on this day.
When Émile refuses to do the deed, she flees to a friend Albert (Jean-Paul Belmondo)...a man hopelessly in love with Angela. But he is struck by the oddity of her request and instead he goes out to dinner with Émile.
There is one moment in "A Woman Is a Woman" where Émile and Angela run around town and ask different men to have sex with Angela so she can have a baby...this is one of the better examples of how quirky the movie is.
The film is rarely heard of, uncommon to be referenced; and it's no wonder why. Godard's film is one of a kind, you can make allusions to several different films; but none would really do it justice.
On this quest to have a baby, we get to see the different shades of Angela...she's not a great woman. Pouty and eager to throw a fit, it seems odd to look at her and then see the movie title. Putting up with Angela is a hassle for both Émile and Albert, who love her equally.
The film isn't a love triangle, nor is a romance of any kind—"A Woman Is a Woman" is just a zany piece of film that reeks of self-importance.
It seems like Godard made the film, just 'cuz.
His self-aggrandizing is off-putting. Albert makes the comment that a meeting better be quick because "Breathless" is coming on television soon and he doesn't want to miss that.
Jean-Luc Godard surrounds himself with bright neon signs that point down to him and scream, "Look at me! I'm important!"
Characters will frequently break the forth wall and talk to the camera, sound is broken apart and fractured, the jump edits are back, and the film overstays its visit. It's not a long movie either, but some scenes are unnecessarily drawn out.
In the breaking of the forth wall, Émile says to the camera that he's not sure if the movie he's in is a comedy or a tragedy...but it is a masterpiece.
"A Woman Is a Woman" is more about the whinny characteristics of Angela than the inner strength of females—I'm not sure why I was expecting that.
Seriously, though, she's really annoying.
As the movie plays out, Angela's motives for wanting the baby are still unexplained...it leaves the viewer thinking that she wants a child as an accessory. There is one scene where the character discuss love; but children are never brought up, so draw your own conclusions from that.
It's a fun movie in its own way...it passed the time; but unlike what Godard might surmise...it is not a masterpiece.







Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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