Deux ou Trois Choses que Je Sais d'Elle

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The unclassifiable Contempt (1963) may be Godard’s greatest achievement, but Two or Three Things I Know About Her is otherwise the best and most abrasive of his ’60s streak, up to and including his declaration of the end of cinema in Weekend (1967). The title’s Her refers to both Juliette Janson (Vlady), a housewife who moonlights as a prostitute, and Paris, whose candy-colored commercial lust is contrasted with the drabness of a housing project.

Two or Three is what’s key: The subject is the inability of words and pictures to adequately convey ideas. Employing a fake-documentary format, Godard creates contradictions between voiceover and image and plays tricks with the boundaries of the frame—turning coffee bubbles into galaxies. The use of CinemaScope emphasizes the sense that, as he says, life is like a “giant comic strip,” with boxes of Tide and Ajax providing the cartoon colors and Godard riffing on whether “truth” is better served by frontal views or profiles.

The pinball machine from Pickpocket provides deliberate aural distraction—its clanking even interrupts future Rivette ingenue Berto, who appears in two or three shots. Characters become symbols (war photographer = American flag shirt) and objects become money (a man pays for sex with cat food): This extraordinary free-form essay has an endless capacity to provoke. In questioning the limits of knowledge, it shows its own ideas to be limitless.

By: Ben Kenigsberg

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Cast and crew

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Screenwriter: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Jean Narboni
Marie Bourseiller
Christophe Bourseiller
Marina Vlady
Anny Duperey
Roger Montsoret
Raoul Lévy