Jean-Luc Godard has been called the most self-conscious, the most realistic, and the most modern of filmmakers. To his appreciators this means he owns up to the fact that a movie is a movie, that at any moment in one of his films you know you're watching a film by Jean-Luc Godard. His films are self-aware in a way that films never were before him. Pierrot le Fou
achieves a rare spontaneity and naturalness, largely due to the presence of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina, but also because of Godard's willingness to let go of any pretense to an illusionary or mimetic style, so-called "realism." What story there is has Pierrot (Belmondo) escaping from his boring life along with Marianne Renoir (Karina), who is chased by gangsters. But this is just an excuse to film a kind of essay to lost love, a poem to Karina that is delightful. If "Pierrot goes wild," then so does Godard, with Belmondo standing in for him in his pursuit of and journey with Karina. Godard is not for everyone, admittedly, but for those with the wherewithal to enjoy his films, they are receiving new life on DVD. Whatever coterie taste survives today has been distributed in multiple across the Internet and via the agency of video rental bins, perhaps all the more potent for that reach. Let's hope so. --Jim Gay
Dissatisfied in marriage and life, Ferdinand (Jean-Paul Belmondo) takes to the road with the babysitter, his ex-lover Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), and leaves the bourgeoisie behind. Yet this is no normal road trip: genius auteur Jean-Luc Godard's tenth feature in six years is a stylish mash-up of consumerist satire, politics, and comic-book aesthetics, as well as a violent, zigzag tale of, as Godard called them, "the last romantic couple." With blissful color imagery by cinematographer Raoul Coutard and Belmondo and Karina at their most animated, Pierrot le fou
is one of the high points of the French new wave, and was Godard's last frolic before he moved ever further into radical cinema.