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Juxtaposing images of pristine, romantic innocence with ones of mute, meaningless violence, Godard's Masculin-Féminin first lulls with a hypnotic, disjointed story line and then stuns with scenes of tremendous depth and meaning. This outrageous film follows the somewhat ineffectual courtship of Madeline, an aspiring pop singer, by Paul, an erstwhile journalist and interviewer but mostly groundless searcher. As in most Godard films, plot mechanics are secondary to elements such as dialog (generally marvelous, but sometimes a bit too pointed), lighting (bizarre and oversaturated, but never less than fascinating), shot framing (extraordinarily thoughtful), and performance. Godard allows his camera to linger on single faces, without cutting, for what seems by modern standards to be extremely long segments--perhaps even excruciatingly long--but the remarkably subtle cast members never disappoint, particularly the fantastically adept and frequently hilarious lead actors, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Chantal Goya. The filmmaker has little to add to our collective understanding of the relationship between masculine et feminine writ large; in fact, most of the female characters are uncomfortably stereotypical, framed as either willfully oblivious to the world or subtly (or overtly) deadly. But as an examination of a young generation faced with the prospect of war in Vietnam and the vagaries of French socialism, Masculin-Féminin proves remorselessly and chillingly trenchant. A towering influence, it would seem, on Whit Stillman's similarly themed Barcelona--but while Stillman lacks the conviction to follow his instincts to their logical, violent conclusions, Godard faces his uncompromising story with elegance and courage. In French, with subtitles that are occasionally difficult to read. --Miles Bethany --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.