Sauve Qui Peut – la Vie

Film, Drama
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Godard's return to celluloid after a decade of experiment in video is in one sense forced: the sources of finance for his projects were drying up, and he himself admits that the film was made as a passport back into the business. But in another, this is his most personal work in years, less important for its return to narrative (the story of two women and a man joined in almost arbitrary ways) than for its chilled sense of autobiography - Dutronc plays an egotistical, washed-out video film-maker called 'Godard'. In that light, the resurrection of earlier themes (especially prostitution) is no return at all, but a confessional fantasy about a generation of men now in middle age, alienated from their sexuality, dissatisfied with their 'commerce', and unwilling to cope with a new sexual/political order. It would be hard to imagine a more courageous project; harder still to find one executed with the kind of stylistic wit and haunting elegance that have made Godard leader of the pack for over twenty years.

By: CA

Release details

Rated: 18
Duration: 89 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenwriter: Anne-Marie Miéville, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Claude Carrière
Cast: Isabelle Huppert
Jacques Dutronc
Anna Baldaccini
Roland Amstutz
Nathalie Baye
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It’s funny that the English title is’ Slow Motion’ rather than ‘Everyman for themselves’ as in America. So you get to a description of one of the film techniques rather than a description of the subject. We get the use of slow motion to analyze and abstract the action By slowing things down: we are seeing not just what is there, but seeing if there is something to see, the emotion, the reality behind things, space becomes time and vice-versa.. Godard has been through his experimental, avant-garde period which was highly politicised and about ideas. Now the experimentation works in harness with communication and people. There is also the juxtaposition of sound and image, selection of musical soundtrack, the playing of music at intervals in bursts; people hear it but are unsure where it’s coming from. Godard is able to subtract the shot as a unit from the flow of the narrative or a sequence and mine it for peripheral detail-a kind of post-modern surrealism. There is the use of subtitles, viz :- 1)Life,(The Imaginary),2) Fear,3) Trade and 4) Music, as he utilizes a formal, 4-part ordering of the narration. There is the tension he establishes between soundtrack and image. He has returned to mainstream narrative but using a freeform commentary eg Marguerite Duras is quoted on the radio or he quotes from Rimbaud. His film is full of self-questioning(art, society ,memory and identity). This complex, playful, film reinvents tradition. The film is clearly the autobiographical sketch of Godard’s own life, that’s just gone. There is the TV and video director Paul Godard, separated from his wife and daughter, arguing with his friend(Baye),who wants to leave. He is at his tether’s end, is picked up by a prostitute,Isabel(Huppert).. In a lecture to students he says:� It’s because I can’t bare to do nothing that I do film� while smoking a cigar. Isabel moves from the country to the city to become a prostitute, telling her sister who wants to earn money quickly about prostitution,�Men want to humiliate you�. She has to undergo various humiliations with her clients, some very comical. She is looking for a flat and meets Baye, taking hers. She also meets an old school friend who gets her another job flying abroad to hotels,doing nothing and coming home. She is beaten up by her pimps and forced to say nobody is free apart from the bankers(!!!). Baye gives up her city job and gets a bike and goes to the country to write a novel and do journalism. Godard’s daughter writes an essay describing the immigration of blackbirds into cities over the last two centuries. Godard is frustrated where he finds himself paralyzed between politics and sexuality,looking for a new direction. There is a rhythm to the life depicted, a sensuality of image and a poetic framing, the movement of characters in and out of frame in an ebb and flow with rhythmic editing and choice music, a sense of what it is to be alive every moment. Everybody is at a turning point and this is a hopeful, new direction in film.