Monday, September 16, 2013

Breathless (1960)

“It's sad to fall asleep. It separates people. Even when you're sleeping together, you're all alone.”

There is something about French cinema that I absolutely adore. Every French film I have seen be it from the past few years or from last century during any era I have thoroughly enjoyed. Their stories are fantastic and the direction is completely different. There is so much care and quality to these films that is severely missing from American films. A few months ago I watched a film by the great French director Francois Truffaut called Shoot the Piano Player. I instantly became a fan. My brother Anthony is taking film classes in college and he told me about Jean Luc Goddard. Anthony raved about Goddard’s A Woman is a Woman. I have yet to see A Woman is a Woman but I did see his most well known film Breathless which was written by Truffaut.
            Breathless is about a man named Michel. Michel is a small time thief who becomes a murderer after he shoots a police officer. He sneaks around Paris trying to evade the police. He tries to collect money from someone who owes him so he can run away to Italy. Michel wants to take an American girl named Patricia with him. They slept together a few times and although they stopped he still likes her.
            The next day Michel reads in the paper that he has been identified as the murder and his photo is in the newspapers. He does not seem phased at all and walks around the streets as if nothing is wrong. Patricia comes home to her small apartment one day to find Michel in her bed. He still wants her to go to Rome with him. She tells Michel that she loves him but she does not want him to love her.

            Things do not end well for Michel. Patricia rats on Michel and the police close in on him.
            The story is a bit more complicated than this but the movie is so good I do not want to give away too many details or too much of what happens.
            Breathless is what started the French New Wave movement with romantic yet unromantic view of love and the quick cuts of scenes. Throughout the whole film it felt like there was this sense of urgency. You wanted Michel to get out of Paris and runaway to Rome even though he was a bad guy. You wind up hating Patricia for making Michel stay behind and for what she does to him in the end. I have only seen Breathless once and I do not know too much about Goddard or Truffaut for that matter but after seeing this I cannot wait to watch it again and I look forward to watching more films by both directors.