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In the mood for a pretentious, arty cinematic rant about the death of Europe? In beautiful high-def....?
Kino / 101 Minutes / 2010 / Unrated / Street Date: January 10, 2012
Two things up front: I have always taken Jean-Luc Godard seriously as a filmmaker and cinematic philosopher, and I've never met a movie of his that I actually thought was all that great. Yeah, there's a certain degree of flash that occurs when one experiences Breathless for the first time, but for this writer, Godard doesn't make the kind of films you fall in love with: His output seems too in-your-face and clinical for that.
Film Socialisme adheres squarely into the director's late-career oeuvre, with Jean-Luc going wild with oblique story strategies, multiple visual formats, and a triptych narrative structure (I should probably put parentheses around this) that ostensibly investigates the decline and fall of European civilization. The film opens, interestingly enough, on the cruise ship Costa Concordia - the one that sunk this month in the Mediterranean - with a motley crew of various passengers with different ties to Europe past and present.
Part two - Our Europe - leaves us in the hands of children, who decide to stage a kind of proto-legal injunction against their parents in an attempt to figure out what modern ethics mean to them specifically. Then we end with a travelogue of sorts entitled Our Humanities, in which Godard and company venture off to places like Egypt and Odessa in search for... something.
Viewers who can jive with Godard's loopy philosophical noodlings might just find Film Socialisme to be a brainy treat, a movie whose all-over-the-place cine-mosaic style is in itself profound and evocative. For me, though, aside from a painfully short acting turn from Patti Smith, the movie is a jumbled, mumbling mess, the result of a beloved fringe filmmaker attempting to jostle his audience into his headspace and not quite succeeding.