(out of 5)
No one would ever accuse Jean-Luc Godard of being a pat-happy optimist, but his prediction of doomsday was never more passionate than in this wonderful experience of a film. We begin with a bourgeois couple in their comfortable Parisian apartment, a wife revealing a sexual escapade to her husband, which along with his casual dismissal of the story describes their physical depravity before their taking off for a weekend trip. Getting into their car and carelessly causing an accident, they set off on a long road trip littered everywhere with damaged automobiles and dead bodies, displayed at its most impressive in an incredible tracking shot that covers an immense highway that is perfectly staged at every step. France’s post-war reliance on luxury goods and comfortable technology has a resulted in a nation of suicidal idiots with no manners, and as we progress through the story this angry, immoral couple descends (thanks in equal parts to the Hippie movement and the intertextuality of Lewis Carroll) into mindless zombies. It’s not for all tastes, as is typical of Godard; the man gets away with pointing fingers without ever implicating his own indulgences because of how talented he is, but his inability to take part in the world he’s so critical of can easily leave audiences cold. That said, this one is a masterful example of his skills, employing an energy in the physicality of its scenes where similarly political films like 2 Or 3 Things I Know About Her and La Chinoise lean more on theory.
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the short story La Autopista del Sur by Julio Cortazar
Cinematography by Raoul Coutard
Music by Antoine Duhamel
Film Editing by Agnes Guillemot