I don't get Godard. Yes, he is considered one of the masters of French cinema and yes, his reputation is undeniable; but I just don't get him. He seems to enjoy confusing the viewer, making them submit to his wild and sometimes flavorless anecdotes. He is a creature of habit, replicating some of the same techniques like breaking the fourth wall...once you see him do it once, it's not that special the following times.
The improvisational style of his writing and shooting is annoying at best, he tries to be very philosophical while humorous and the result is a befuddling disaster. He uses the same actors in the same kinds of roles and soon his films blur together.
With all this lined up against him, and all of it is extremely present in "Pierrot le Fou", it's amazing that I still managed to like his movie.
"Breathless" is as close of Godard got to coherent, at least of the movies I've seen of his thus far. It's a straight forward plot that is exiting and interesting. With movies like "A Woman is a Woman" and "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her", Godard uses an avant-garde attitude. It's almost Tarantino-esque while still being nothing like the director of "Pulp Fiction".
Here, in "Pierrot le Fou", Godard seems to try to combine the two worlds—the coherent and the abstract...the result is trying, testing, beautiful, and annoying.
It's a testament if you can finish the film, because I'm not going to lie...it's quite boring.
I read articles that called "Pierrot le Fou" a masterpiece and others that stated it was reflective of "Godard's world".
Certainly, the style is unmistakable. The bland way of talking leads to discussions about death and love. Sex is thrown around casually verbally and is purposely kept off screen.
The film begins with a man named Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) being unhappy with his life. He married a rich woman and they have children, but he finds that he can only talk to himself...no one else is intelligent or interesting enough.
When his wife takes him to a party the babysitter arrives and surprised Ferdinand, it is an ex-lover from five and a half years ago. Ferdinand goes to the party and hates it so leaves and returns home early to find Marianne (Anna Karina), the babysitter, still there. She has missed the last train home. It's pouring rain outside so Ferdinand offers her a ride home.
But they never go back to Marianne's place, instead they start a Bonnie and Clyde style of living. They enter a world of crime and punishment, living freely and narrating each other's lives.
Because Godard is keenly interested in language and how it conveys nothing of what the person is thinking, "Pierrot le Fou" feels like an untruth. You don't believe anything; expect the characters. You believe that you don't believe them...if that makes sense.
The film is a movie about innocence, about trusting, and about crime.
Some parts are humorous and exaggerated and others ring true of real people and places.
Godard seems to have wanted a very entertaining and perplexing picture...he got it half right.
"Pierrot le Fou" is well-done but frustrating on a level beyond what it should be—it's purposefully muddled.
I'm sure I could glean much more from it on a second viewing like foreshadowing and revealing statements; but I'm not sure I could sit through it again.
I did like the ending and it hit me that you can't pick the film apart...that's not the point. If you get hung up on the individual aspects of the film, you miss the bigger picture. It's a mess, but a conglomerate that should be viewed as one solid piece and not a picture made up from thousands of fragments.
But, in the end, "Pierrot le Fou" was a little disappointing...if just for the recycled feeling of it.
Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4