Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#793. A Woman is a Woman (1961)

Directed By: Jean-Luc Godard

Starring: Anna Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Paul Belmondo

Trivia: This was Jean-Luc Godard's first film in color

Jean-Luc Godard’s A Woman is a Woman serves as the French New Wave’s answer to a romantic comedy, with a dash of music tossed in for good measure. Yet what makes it such a winning film is its star, Anna Karina, whose beaming smile and bubbly personality bring the movie to life.

Exotic dancer Angela (Karina) is a free spirit who loves to sing (which she does a few times throughout the film, resulting in a handful of musical interludes). She’s also madly in love with her boyfriend, Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy), while Emile’s good friend, Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo), is madly in love with her. Angela’s deepest desire is to have a baby, but Emile doesn’t believe he’s ready to be a father. This leads to a number of arguments between the two, some of which are quite unique (one night, they refuse to talk to each other, and instead toss insults back and forth by pointing at words on the covers of books). Alfred takes advantage of the couple’s domestic problems to try and lure Angela away from Emile, and for the first time, Angela’s dropping hints that she might be ready for a change.

A Woman is a Woman is very much a product of the New Wave in that it tells a basic story, and does so on the cheap (the bar where Angela works looks like a sound stage with some tables scattered around it). But then, you won’t be focusing on the production values (or lack thereof) because you won’t be able to take your eyes off Anna Karina, whose effervescent personality is downright infectious. Whether she’s dancing for the dregs at the strip club or simply walking through the apartment in her pajamas, you’ll follow her every step of the way. Brialy and Belmondo are fine as the men in Angela’s life, but the movie would be nothing without its vivacious leading lady. A Woman is a Woman is as close to a one-man, or, in this case, one-woman show as you can get.

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