Film Socialisme (PG)

Film

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Time Out says

Tue Jul 5 2011

Regular readers will know that with every film review we print a director’s name, country of origin (which often determines the language of the film), certificate, run time and star rating. At least three of those facts lose all relevance when confronted with ‘Film Socialisme’, a mischievous avant-garde triptych from cinema’s premier, stogie-chomping provocateur, Jean-Luc Godard.

First, while it’s unmistakably ‘un film de JLG’, whether he ‘directed’ it in the traditional sense is debatable. With its scuzzed-up documentary inserts, punning intertitles, obscure film and literature citations and cryptic dramatic stand-offs, it feels like a work devised, sculpted or extracted from a dream rather than directed. As for the country of origin, the ‘action’ takes place on a cruise ship and in a petrol station. Those involved in the film (we hesitate to call them characters) converse in a variety of tongues and include philosopher Alain Badiou and punk chanteuse Patti Smith. Dialogue is subtitled in ‘Navajo English’ and reads like garbled staccato beat poetry or the usual Godardian sloganeering.

The alienating qualities of language have been staples in Godard’s work, and what better way to express that than a film which borders on the incomprehensible? Elements of the film take on a more profound meaning when viewed in the context of Godard’s career, such as the use of bold primary colours or the meshing of film stocks. It’s also, as the title hints, a screed against anyone or anything (class, money, art, age, ethnicity) blocking the realisation of a socialist nirvana.

And it makes a mockery of the star-rating system. How to judge a film on those terms when there’s nothing to judge it against? For the uninitiated, consume it as a passionate flurry of visual and aural experiments – enjoy the compositions, textures, shapes, colours and juxtapositions rather than search in vain for meaning – and you’ll be just fine.
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Release details

Rated:

PG

UK release:

Fri Jul 8, 2011

Duration:

101 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Jean-Luc Godard

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