Movie Review: Redoubtable

By Wes Maulsby 08.07.2018

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Redoubtable (UK Rating: 15)

 If there were a Mt. Rushmore of French filmmakers, Jean-Luc Godard would be one of the first faces etched into the stone .As he was one of the pioneers of the French New Wave, he stands as one of the most significant filmmakers in history whose influence stretches far beyond the borders of France. French New Wave changed cinema forever, and many of the most acclaimed filmmakers of the past few decades were influenced by the likes of Godard and his peers. Despite his deserving of lofty praise, Redoubtable has no interest in giving him any. Instead, it depicts him as a cantankerous and rudderless individual as he attempts to take part in a socialist revolution in France, as well as within cinema. Redoubtable hit cinemas and on-demand services, via Thunderbird Releasing, back on 11th May.

In spite of being so clearly about this particular time in his life, the perspective of the film often pivots between Godard and his then wife, Anne Wiazemsky. For much of the film, it feels as though it is solidly about Godard, although it increasingly appears to be about Wiazemsky - particularly as the film nears its end. This inconsistent perspective often leaves questions as to who the film is actually about. It is dominated by Godard: his views, ideals and struggles are the only ones on display as Wiazemsky's character spends the vast majority of the film placating him and his desires. The viewer never really gets to know much about her; there are some moments here and there where audiences get some glimpses into her character, but most of the film is spent with her taking on more of a supporting/background role to Godard. Although by the time the end is reached, it all seems to be solidly in the perspective of Wiazemsky as she observes Godard while he fights through this difficult period in his life.


 
As for Godard's depiction within the film, it is not a pretty one. He is portrayed as a complete jerk to nearly everyone around him - even his close friends. He spends the entirety of the film trying to partake in this socialist/Maoist revolution in France, while only managing to make enemies out of everyone he encounters. His friends don't agree with him and his radical views, the students he is supporting think that he is a capitalist puppet and elitist who doesn't understand the goal of the revolution, and his fellow filmmakers cannot stand his audacious disrespect of the history of cinema as he derides all previous films - even his own. He spends the entire film making enemies of virtually everyone on the screen and he has little to no redeeming qualities. Godard was a pioneer in breaking the rules of cinema and creating something new, so it is hard to believe that he would be such a clichéd and one-note character in real life.

Being a pioneer in French New Wave meant that Godard was a pioneer in filmmaking techniques and breaking the rules of conventional cinema. Movement of the camera, editing that breaks continuity, the placement of characters and objects within the frame and outside of it, are all aspects of modern filmmaking that were largely started by the filmmakers of French New Wave, and those aspects are where this picture is at its strongest. Director, Michel Hazanavicius, does an excellent job of imitating many of the shooting and editing techniques of the French New Wave to give this a feel of being pulled straight out of the late '50s or early '60s. In most scenes, there is at least one technique reminiscent of French New Wave being implemented that replicates the look and feel of those films. However, the film can never quite transcend being an imitation. One of the other major factors of French New Wave is the idea of the director as an auteur. Their presence can be felt at all levels of the project, and it has largely become the standard for modern filmmaking. Unfortunately, Redoubtable does not feel as if it were made by someone. It lacks the character of an authentic French New Wave film and feels almost as if a machine algorithm put it all together.


 
6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Redoubtable is a film without an identity. It cannot fully commit to becoming a French New Wave piece as it settles simply for looking like one. For as much as much as the viewer seems to follow Anne Wiazemsky, they will reach the conclusion knowing very little about her; only that she doesn't really agree with Jean-Luc Godard. Despite seeming to be the focus of the film, Godard lacks an identity, as well. He wants to be part of a grand movement, yet he only manages to become a feckless revolutionary, while angering nearly everyone around him with his caustic attitude. Instead of getting a different perspective on one of France's greatest filmmakers, the audience is left trying to figure out what these characters really want, and ultimately why this story is even being told.

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