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  • For me, Godard is easily the greatest living filmmaker; the most radical and revolutionary, one of the few director's whose work is so defiant, unique and idiosyncratic that he can go without credit on some of his greatest films - Weekend (1967) and Hélas pour moi (1993) to name just two - and yet, the work is always distinctive, exciting and immediately identifiable. Une femme est une femme (1961) was Godard's first film in colour and also his first in cinema scope, and he uses both of these devises to the fullest of their capabilities. As a result, it is one of the most important films of his career, sowing the seeds of creativity that would give way to later films like Le Mepris (1963), Pierrot le fou (1965) and La Chinoise (1967), and in the process creating a unique and entertaining film that rewards repeated viewings, whilst simultaneously remaining true to the filmmaker's progressive, cinematic intent. Like much of Godard's earlier work, the preoccupations here are almost entirely referential. He's still trying to revolutionise the format somewhat - playing with codes and conventions, simplifying character and narrative to an almost ironic degree and creating the drama from an accumulation of scenes - but there is also something more playful going on alongside a genuine love of cinema that is all too often overshadowed by the cynicism in his more recent work, such as Slow Motion (1980) and the underrated In Praise of Love (2001).

    At first glance, the story of Une femme est une femme would seem to be incredibly sweet; a play on relationship difficulties and notions of love, honour and friendship wrapped up in the eternal battle of the sexes in a way that makes for great, light-hearted farce. However, on closer inspection, the giddy production design and typically imaginative use of mise-en-scene seem to be presenting a number of abstractions that draw our eye away from the deeper themes behind the film and the characters that are introduced. Like Jean Pierre Jeunet's Amélie (2001), the colourful format and child-like games being played by both character and filmmaker alike seem to be hiding darker notions that point towards ideas of loneliness, emasculation and dissatisfaction. With this in mind, we must ask ourselves if Godard's playful references and elements of sardonic pastiche are intended to be seen as something chic, or are they instead more in tune with the escapism presented by a film like Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000), in which musical sequences and the air of American melodrama is used as an exit point for the hopelessness of the central character.

    With this interpretation it is important to look at the character of Angela, a strip-club artist in a tempestuous relationship with the cold and chauvinistic Emile. Angela delights in playing games with Emile and with the audience as well; acting out her existence as if trapped between the continually juxtaposing worlds of the sitcom and the Hollywood musical as a desperate attempt to derive a simple sense of pleasure from a life that seems entirely joyless. She believes her relationship with Emile can be salvaged by the birth of a child, but when Emile seems unwilling and unaccommodating she turns to his best friend Alfred and begins yet another duplicitous game between the two. This throws something of a shadow over the character of Angela, her name itself creating an ironic juxtaposition as she plays the two men off against each other in an attempt to get what she wants. These issues would appear in subsequent Godard films, from Vivre sa vie (1962) to Slow Motion, with the depiction of women as performers, and indeed, women as prostitutes, seemingly allowing themselves to be put-upon in an attempt to get what they really want. Unsurprisingly, these are serious themes and issues with real dramatic weight that could, in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, have been used to mine a path of social-realist melodrama. Godard is more shrewd than that and presents the film as a carefree farce that is continually undercut by the distancing and distracting use of both audio and visual experimentation.

    Despite the darker and more despairing thematic issues presented by the script, the tone of the film and the central performance from Anna Karina as Angela is undoubtedly bubbly, with its vibrant conversations, imaginative use of role playing and blithe musical interludes. However, the film is still reliant on Godard's iconic use of early deconstructive elements, with jarring and dissonant bursts of music, random jump cuts, provocative inter-titles filled with sardonic wit and devious puns, and the appropriation of numerous genre characteristics and stylistic cross-references to offset the story at its most basic level. Regardless of such personal interpretations, the film works just as well if taken at face value, with the boundless energy and imagination of Godard and his crew, the playful references to Truffaut and the relationship between the burgeoning French New Wave and its roots in Hollywood B-pictures, and the fantastic performances from Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

    Without question, Une femme est une femme could be seen as Godard's first true masterpiece. It is funny, witty, clever and insightful - filled with imaginative vignettes and the infectious sense of joie de vivre that only great film-making can present - whilst beneath the surface we find all manner of hidden depths and avenues of interpretation that remind us of the filmmaker's particular sense of genius. Regardless of your interpretation, the final moments of Une femme est une femme, with that devilish last line, visual pun and wink to the camera is a masterstroke from Godard; one that works within the context of the film as a frothy attempt at jovial farce, whilst simultaneously reinforcing the darker side of Angela's character and the empty life that she leads. As the character herself proclaims halfway through; "I don't know if this is comedy or tragedy... but it is a masterpiece".
  • kami_k19 October 2004
    A Woman is a Woman belongs to the period when Godard was playful, uninhibited and really a wild child of the movies. So when he made a musical, in fact he made a childish and free imitation of a musical that at the same time showed, in an Godardian analytic way, how the Hollywood musicals usually depict life and love. In the film characters love and evade committing to love at the same time. There is music by Legrand and spontaneous looking movements which are aspirations to dance but at the same some oblique realism is at work. As with Godard, fantasy and realism interact in a dialectical way so that both seem indistinguishable after a while.

    The trio of Brialy, Belmondo and Karina is great but Karina is obviously unique in that she makes the whole subject of performance seem out of place. She is there playing innocent, dumb, inviting, sad etc. and again at the same time she seems NOT THERE as though her mind is some place else. Her big eyes work and shine all the time but they don't give away the character. There is no argue about Godard's style which after so many years and so many innovations in the language of film has remained fresh and unsurpassed in vitality and an acute understanding of "Films as Games" or rather "Life depicted as a game within a game". However watching A Woman is a Woman after some years I still wonder at the their cinematic child: Acting as a sort of being there and being free to feel the film, breathing the air of movies. The plot is as unimportant as it can be. In its place moments show up, little but infinitely joyful moments of adults looking like teenagers amused and fascinated by the thought of being in a musical comedy. Was Godard the biggest daydreamer of the cinema or what?
  • Godard is beginning to grow on me. Maybe it's because I'm watching his films from the sixties, made when I was a teenager in France, and the nostalgia appeals to me. Maybe it's because his work seems free and easy, uncontrived, almost amateurish compared to some other famous film makers. Or maybe it's just that I like this particular pretty girl he features.

    She is pretty, gangly Anna Karina starring as Angela, an exotic dancer who is madly in love and wants to have a baby. Godard has a lot of fun with her, encouraging her to mug for the camera, getting her to do movements that cause her to trip and look not just gangly and very young like a pre-adolescent, but even clumsy--and then to leave the shots in the film, probably telling her, "This is a comedy. You need to be not just beautiful, but funny, warm, vulnerable." Karina does manage a lot of vulnerability. Her exotic act including her singing is...well, there are usually only a handful of customers in the joint and so her skills are probably appropriately remunerated. Again this is intentional since Godard wants her to be just an ordinary girl without any great talent, someone with whom the girls in the audience can identify. But the irony is that the girl must needs be at least pretty. Karina is more than pretty. She is exquisite with her long shapely limbs and her gorgeous countenance.

    One of the compelling nostalgic elements is the way women did their eyes in the sixties: so, so overdone! Although I thought that look was oh so sexy then, today I would like to clean the blue, blue--or is it purple?--eye shadow and the black, black mascara off of Karina's face and see her au naturel! But it is the sixties in Paris--Gay Paree, Paris in the Spring, the City of Light! Well, 1960 to be exact, which really is more like the fifties than the sixties if you know what I mean. Everything is so innocent, Ike still in the American White House, De Gaulle the triumphant hero of France. Algeria and Vietnam completely offstage of course--this is a romantic comedy. The German occupation, the horrific world war and its aftermath are distant memories for Angela and her friends who were only children then. Life is young, the girls are pretty, the boys are cute, prosperity is upon them. It's Godard's Paris. Life is playful. Life is fun. You tease and you have no real worries. The Cold War is of no concern. The 100,000 or so American troops still stationed in France to support the troops in Germany are not seen. But Godard's love affair with the mass American culture is there in little asides and jokes. Emile or Alfred (I forget which) asks Angela what she would like to hear on the jukebox. "Istsy-bitsy bikini," he offers. No. She wants Charles Aznavour. She wants romance and an adult love that leads to marriage and maternity.

    Angela's beloved is Emile played with a studied forbearance by an eternally youthful Jean-Claude Brialy. He doesn't want to father a baby, at least not yet. She pouts, she makes faces, she threatens, she burns the roast and drops the eggs, she crosses her arms, and she gives him the silent treatment. It doesn't work. He prefers to read the Worker's Daily. Ah, but will Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo, who seems intent on out boyish-ing Brialy) pull himself away from TV reruns of "Breathless" to do the job? Will she let him? Is Emile really so indifferent as to allow his friend carnal knowledge of his girlfriend? Is this a kind of threesome, a prelude to a menage a trois? Watch for a shot of Jeanne Moreau being asked how Truffaut's film Jules et Jim (1962) which she was working on at the time, is coming along, a kind of cinematic insider jest that Godard liked to include in his films. She gives a one word reply, "Moderato." See this for Anna Karina, and see her also in Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964) in which she looks even more teenager-ish than she does here. She is not a great actress, but she is wondrously directed by Godard who was then her husband.

    (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
  • A French striptease artist (Anna Karina) is desperate to become a mother. When her reluctant boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy) suggests his best friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to impregnate her, feelings become complicated when she accepts.

    Godard declared this triangle "an excellent subject for a comedy à la Lubitsch" and, in fact, the Belmondo character is named Alfred Lubitsch, which is no subtle tip of the hat. This is Lubitsch with an eccentric French touch.

    Only the third of Godard's films (he made many, many more), it is not really my favorite by a long shot. It has some of the quirkiness of his other films (especially early on when the music seems to be completely unaware of the movie). But it just never really hits home for me.
  • Une femme est une femme (Jean-Luc Godard, 1961) conjures that feeling of acute frustration unique to the work of Jean-Luc Godard: as soon as it achieves some kind of clarity or emotional attractiveness it goes off somewhere else. But if that new diversion isn't working, don't worry - there'll be another one along in a minute. Anna Karina is good as the playful, big-eyed protagonist, who loves her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy) but wants a baby so much she might just have one with her ex (Jean-Paul Belmondo, in another winning performance). The film is brightly-coloured, imaginative and littered with movie in-jokes, containing references to the movies of Godard and his Nouvelle Vague contemporary Francois Truffaut and nods to old Hollywood musicals (Gene Kelly and Bob Fosse are namechecked, Belmondo's surname is Lubitsch). And every so often everything clicks into place: like the terrific snippet in which Belmondo is accused of dodging the rent, the barrage of peculiar noises preceding his anticipated bathroom tryst with Karina or the series of visual gags based on manipulated book titles. But the movie frequently unravels, with long stretches that offer nothing but vivid direction and a feeling that Godard should really watch some of those musical comedies he claims to be homaging. The film's incoherence is mistaken by some critics for freewheeling brilliance, which is a pretty stupid mistake to make.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    OVERRATED "ART FILM" ALERT: The following film is adored by sophisticated and "with it" film fans. The fact that the average person may find the whole thing unfunny and bland is due to their just not being smart enough to understand and appreciate this masterpiece.

    First, note that I have only seen two films by Godard that I have liked. The other 6 or 8 films I have seen I really despised. So, with a score of 2, this isn't the worst film of his I have seen. It is only annoying and trite--a piece of fluff that is barely watchable. SO, compared to some of his other works, such as Prenom: Carmen, Alphaville and Pierrot le Fou, this isn't that bad a film.

    What, specifically, did I dislike about THIS film? Well, the dialog is almost like someone asked a person with a brain injury to write it. Bits and pieces are cute--some, even, a little brilliant (such as when Balmondo says he wants to stay home and watch the film BREATHLESS on TV--that's a cute homage to this other film by Godard). But, other parts never go anywhere or sound like they are being spoken by people from another planet--they sound completely unrealistic and stupid. It's funny, because another French film from the same era with unrealistic dialog is, perhaps, my favorite French film (THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG)--because, unlike A WOMAN IS A WOMAN, it had heart and you really cared about the characters. The characters in this film just seemed like jerks (Balmondo stiffing the guy he owed money, his friend's selfishness and ambivalence towards his girlfriend, etc.). After a while, I just wanted them all to stop talking so much and hopefully go away!

    It's weird, though. MANY consider Godard to be a great director and his bizarre and often non-sensical films are adored by many critics and he has a very devoted following--this is obvious by the high scores most of his films get on IMDb. HOWEVER, at the same time, this is probably because the average viewer would never watch his films and would rarely watch more than one (since they aren't gluttons for punishment). However, I am truly an odd-ball because I keep watching them again and again in a futile attempt to understand why they are so loved. Dumb plots, childish dialog and choppy direction are all I see.

    If you still want to see a French New Wave film but find Godard's too weird and self-indulgent, try the films of Truffaut. They are generally much better grounded in reality and are much more coherent.
  • nycritic27 August 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Maybe it was the extended scene in which both Emile and Angela hold up books that are meant to express their pent-up anger at each other, or maybe it was Godard's staccato yet stagy, posed style in which he tells their story, or maybe it was an essential element that got lost in translation when I viewed UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME, but for all the hoopla that it's received over the years, I can't see it. Sure, it looks gorgeous and Anna Karina is the girliest of them all, prancing, pouting, batting her eyelashes and enunciating in that voice of hers while her character's paper-thin conflicts play themselves out on screen, but where THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG had, despite its experimental nature, a sense of deeply sentimental pathos, UNE FEMME is just shy of irritating. Jean-Luc Godard hasn't created a failure of a movie that has, because of the director's reputation, become a classic of French New Wave and Nouvelle Vague. The thing is, some of the jokes seem only aimed at a milieu who are in on it; there's a feeling that pervades that unless you are or have the type of sensibility to "get" what's being told even when it's not expressed, then you're likely to walk out somehow unfazed by the experience.

    At least, two sequences stand out for completely different reasons. The first, a scene where Jean Paul Belmondo, who plays Anna Karina's second love interest, meets Jeanne Moreau and asks her how JULES ET JIM is coming along. She replies: "Moderato." For those in the know, she and he both co-starred in 1960's MODERATO CANTABILE based on the novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras -- she of the brief yet compelling stories.

    The second sequence revolves on the musical interlude both Karina and Belmondo share. It's a moment that is not suspenseful per se, but hints at that awkwardness that is present in those "uncomfortable silences" (quoting Mia Wallace from PULP FICTION) where the characters involved want to get closer, but are too shy or uneasy about each other to make the first move. Interspliced in between are pictures of two men who also seem to be separated by space, even though they clearly want to get closer.

    At 83 minutes long, UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME feels longer. I may sound like someone who was bored or just didn't like much of it, but truth of the matter is, it's too lightweight and too uneven to a point where I found myself seeing it at a cerebral level. It has inventiveness, the balls to show montages that break the norm of what was until the previous decade the traditional way of filming, but because it's more an experiment than a film proper, I can find myself taking it as such.
  • This movie is often advertised as a musical. It's not. It's Jean-Luc Godard's world, filled with vibrant blues and reds, bogaurd cigarettes, and cinema fantasies, shown through the eyes of Anna Karina. Karina plays a stripper, but unlike the other girls, she dances and sings as if she were in a musical choreographed by Bob Fosse. Raoul Cotard's cinerama camera follows her through Paris as we expiriance her flirtation's with her lover's best friend (played by Jean Paul Belamondo who also costars with Karina in 'Pierette le Fou' and starred in Godard's first film, A bout de scoffule) and argues with her lover about whether they should have a child and how awful the opposite sex is. They love eachother deeply, but can't stand eachother. In my experiance this IS love...or the closest thing humans can get to love. Godard keeps us completley out of the film by constantly reminding us that THIS IS A FILM. Anna Karina winks at the camera, breaks into song, the actors are staged unrealistically. This is what makes Jean-Luc Godard great. No matter how hard he tried to obtain realism in his first film, it was still a film and this is one of Godard's subliminal messages to the audience. Fun, charming, cinematic, and beautiful--a woman is a woman is a fine piece of cinema.
  • It's always fascinating to watch Godard operate outside of his beloved gangster/noir thing, just to see if he can he do it- or how he'll do it. "A Woman Is A Woman" not only proves he has a flair for romantic comedy, but that he has made quite an extraordinary one. This movie is so charming and funny that it puts the assembly-line Hollywood romantic comedies to shame.

    I've never thought Anna Karina was a great actress, but she is a good one, plus has the added benefit of a natural beauty and presence on-camera that really makes a star a star. She is a one-of-a-kind performer, and her lilting, flitting style fits remarkably well with Godard's roving camera in this light-headed, light-hearted story about a young girl working as a stripper who desperately wants to have a baby with her boyfriend Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy).

    But the thing that sets the film apart from others in this mostly trite genre is Godard's unique style: the use of on-screen graphics to give insights into the character's motives, the all-too-sly speaking directly to the camera, the stop-start of the film's scoring, the accentuation of moments and dialogue by music which is extremely well-done. I loved the scene where Karina and Brialy, "not speaking", speak to each other with book notes, concluding in "all women to the firing squad". His conception of the Zodiac club is hilarious; it might be the tamest strip club in world history (it looks like a little Italian restaurant). And Godard is an absolute genius at writing small talk that sounds interesting and funny. It is a rare gift, and he doesn't get enough credit for it. In a genre like romantic comedy, where the subject matter is so trivial, to be able to sustain an entire motion picture just on small talk is no small accomplishment.

    I highly recommend this picture for fans of good romantic comedy-it might be the best ever of this type. "A Woman Is A Woman" may be lightweight as Godard's films go, but it's exceptional as well. 3 *** out of 4
  • JohnHowardReid17 June 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Two or three very good jokes (the scene in which Belmondo is accosted by a creditor and they end up hurling insults at each other as they cross the road in different directions, and the sequence in which so many people bludge a light off Belmondo's cigarette, he ends up with an unsmokable stub) and a very promising opening give little indication of the seemingly endless dreariness to come when Jean-Claude Brialy cycles on to the scene and the characters settle down to a boring array of routine recriminations in the one dreary set. It looks like the producer was unable to afford only two indoor sets. Admittedly, the director has tried to circumvent the shortage with a bit of location work, but this is neither skillfully chosen nor cleverly employed. Worse still, the obviously hand-held camera wobbles to an incredible degree. No doubt, a lot of this was done deliberately in order to disguise the ineptness of the direction and the lack of francs in the producer's pocket. But there was really no need for this display of deliberate ineptitude. The rest of the movie in itself provides evidence enough. And to make matters worse, Anna Karina acts like a wet rag, nothing like the delightfully animated personality she unveiled in "She'll Have To Go".
  • This is a Jean-Luc Godard musical-comedy, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, a fact which he himself acknowledged. The wide-screen color cinematography by Raoul Coutard is amazing, and the experiments with color are lovely. Anna Karina is incredibly pretty and rather too self-consciously adorable; Jean-Claude Brialy is suavely understated, and Jean-Paul Belmondo is certainly exuberant. There's a lot to recommend, even if it's far from the most successful of early Godard films.
  • A Woman is a Woman was described by Godard as his "first real movie". While Breathless to him may have seemed like a ill-born experiment (he said of it that it didn't turn out like he expected), this film displays his skills as a filmmaker that would later bloom out with My Life to Live, Contempt, Band of Outsiders, and Alphaville. This may not be as good as those, and perhaps it shows Godard, like with Fellini, as an artist who would evolve with the more experience with the techniques and actors.

    As it is, however, this film is, much of the time, a jubilant, tongue-in-cheek "musical-comedy-tragedy" about a stripper (Anna Karina, looking and acting as she usually does- gorgeously) who has that feeling kicking in to pound out a tot. His boyfriend Emile (Brialy) is reluctant, and thinks it's stupid to rush into it. Their mutual friend Alfred Lubitch, ho-ho, (played by Belmondo in a performance that makes me want to look back to see if he was so bad as I though it Breathless) would be happy to oblige, if he could find a connection of love somewhere. This story, much like with the story of three friends planning to rob a house in Band of Outsiders, is just the beat the actors and the directors sing and dance to. Meanwhile, the film takes of its own life-force as the filmmaker takes on a kind of criticism on the genres he's participating in, loading it with in-jokes.

    Sometimes the in-jokes can be a little irksome, as can be the actors portrayals in spots. There is so much irony, so much fun, so much delight in being able to make such a widescreen piece like this that they sometimes forget what it is they're doing. Perhaps I have not seen enough of, or at least comparable to, the kinds of 50's musical-comedies that Godard must have eaten up like gummy bears. But it is clear to me that he, along with his actors Karina, Brialy, Belmondo, relish in their youth in this film without completely over-doing it. The literary/movie references are funny in most spots, the music by Michael Legrand is used by Godard with a touch of genius on both ends. And just when you think, like I did the first time I watched Breathless, that it might get surprisingly boring, it bounces back to get the viewer's attention with some unusual joke or song or element to catch you off guard. Any way you look at it, A Woman is a Woman is an essential piece of the French new-wave oeuvre, even if for me it was imperfect. B+
  • Yet Godard made some films which were more intelligent (or included more intelligent people), this one is definitely one of the funniest. Parodizing some aspects of the genre of musical comedy, there is not very much singing and dancing performed on screen, but the dialogues and actions are often quite absurd, or exaggerated, or not quite realistic, just like a song in a musical.

    This is why at times it seems that Anna Karina's character is a little dumb, whereas in some dialogues she reminded me of Brigitte Bardot in Le mépris, who is cruel but not at all stupid. Convincing characters are not the most important thing in Une femme est une femme.

    Playful camera work, playful use of music. A short and entertaining Godard film (really!), which nevertheless provides masses of material to be interpreted by New Wave lovers.
  • I am no fan of Godard and his movies indeed. This one is again a succession of meaningless scenes and dialogues maybe even half absurd and nonsensical. The plot theme looks like to be the fact that a woman wants to have a baby with his boyfriend but he doesn't. Then she keeps moving between him and their friend Alfred who is supposedly in love with her, threatening(!?) to have the baby with him. This is a too simple screen-play to fill a movie and what we see is that succession of endless foolish scenes and conversations around who is in love with whom or not. I think Godard didn't intend to make a drama or a tragedy but if this is a comedy it is definitively not funny. A real bore indeed like most of the other Godard's movies I have seen till now. And I pity such good players like Brialy, Belmondo and Anna Karina (who into the bargain seems is beginning her career) for being so ill-spent in this movie.
  • Absolutely beautiful. I loved every minute of this piece. The Color. Anna Karina. The opening scenes. The closing scenes. The concept. Whenever I think of Godard, I think of Anna Karina singing in the cabaret about her beauty. If you consider yourself a fan of Godard, French New Wave, musicals (although coming into seeing this, i was expecting quite a different type of musical, a more American version, which it wasn't) or just film in general, this is a must see. Godard holds a huge influence over todays films, i.e. Wes Anderson's work. I love seeing Anna Karina walking into the coffee shop, past the traffic, from the drab looking outside, ordering coffee, and leaving. I am so happy that Mr. Godard is still making films today, what a gift.
  • Woman is a Woman, A (1961)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    A woman (Anna Karina) decides she wants to have a baby but when her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy) refuses she decides to turn to his best friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo). It's no secret that I've had a love/hate relationship with Godard and this one here was somewhere in the middle. I thought the opening forty-five minutes, as strange and surreal as they were, were entertaining and the weird nature of the movie kept me going but then the movie just hit a wall with me and was never able to recover. What I liked about the opening half was Godard's (apparent) spoof of Hollywood melodramas as our beloved stripper goes on and on about stupid topics that, in a melodrama, would take thirty-minutes to go through and would end up with a big finale with over-dramatic tensions building up and eventually exploding. The way Godard handles this stuff through the music, the surreal scenes and the constantly moving camera was very well done and it was working on me. I'm really not sure what happened after that but there's a scene inside the strip club where the boyfriend and his friend are sitting with a couple women and the woman is with another man. Once again we get a very good scene with the camera floating back and forth between the parties but right after this the movie just fell apart. I guess I finally got tired of its cuteness and self-indulgent ways. I really had a hard time caring or following the woman and her choices. I thought the three leads all gave very good performances but that didn't save the movie for me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Charmer from Jean-Luc Godard stars a very appealing Anna Karina as an exotic dancer, Angela, wanting a child from her store owner boyfriend, Émile Récamier (Jean-Claude Brialy). Émile, however, isn't particularly interested in a child or marriage, but just keeping their relationship as it is currently. Angela begins to ponder moving on from Émile in favor of her ne'er-do-well friend, Alfred Lubitsch (French New Wave icon, Jean-Paul Belmondo). A ditsy love triangle develops but it never rises to anything all that melodramatic as Godard keeps the tone light and fluffy. Still, Godard incorporates intertitles, editing techniques, camera pans (two such instances has the camera doing a complete turn to the right and left inside the little apartment Angela and Émile share), ebbs and flows in the musical scoring (to emphasize the playful banter and antics that poke fun at each other that exists between Angela and Émile) in order to give his film a sense of unpredictable and off-the-cuff style that isn't what you normally see in a romantic comedy. There's even a bit of a sing-songy method in how Angela addresses Émile at times when they do this back-and-forth « sizing each other up » flirty (and purposely antagonistic in a less imposing as much as mischievous way) dialogue in regards to topics that range from the aforementioned child talk to « what's for supper ». It fits neatly into the French New Wave era with its use of Parisian locations (Godard even « goes crazy » by shooting actual people just trafficking through while Angela convinces a discarded Communist to join a exotic dancing establishment). Jeanne Moreau even cameos for Godard in a conversation with Belmondo about her film, Jules et Jim ! Another scene has Angela talking with a friend about Shoot the Piano Player, done in a type of kidding form of charades. Respect like that is often added to films of Godard's for Truffaut. The « presentation in Eastman color » and the « use of Cinemascope » seems to indicate that Godard, along with several of his contemporaries working at that time, was reaching a significance as a filmmaker…a prominence. But Karina's enchanting presence and bewitching beauty is so captivating, his techniques are only enhanced because she is in his film. Belmondo has one of those archetypes that worms his way out of paying debts, a hanger-on slacker who just so happens to have enough charisma, clever wit, and sense of humor to get by. Karina knows he's not for her, but even considering him as a suitor (he tells her he loves her) is an indication that Brialy is failing her. Of course emerging with « I want a baby » out of the blue does kind of serve as a surprise. The couple have a way of provoking each other. A particularly memorable couple of scenes has them using the titles from books on their shelves to communicate how they feel using a lamp light to guide their way through the apartment and a source to emanate the exact words meant to provoke reaction. I think A Woman is a Woman is a showcase for Karina's lighter side and the whole film is presented in a manner that doesn't attempt to cause us to look much deeper than the surface ; except perhaps once scene where Karina, when listening to a jukebox song chosen by Belmondo, attentively understands what Braily means to her, and another that has Belmondo mentioning a newspaper article regarding a love triangle and two letters sent to two lovers by a woman. I think after you watch enough Godard, if you don't like "dialogue movies" then perhaps he isn't for you. The camera, as always did, adores Karina. Photogenic doesn't even begin to describe how she lights up a screen. To kind of give you an idea of where the couple is in their relationship, Braily refers to Karina affectionately "pet".
  • g61268-18 September 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    Plot summary: Anna Karina sings and strips and wants a child. Her boyfriend Jean-Claude Brialy doesn't. Their friend Jean-Paul Belmondo is willing to impregnate Anna, and so Jean-Claude Brialy changes his mind and decides to do the job. The end.

    Review: After three tries, I simply cannot watch this whole movie. The musical outbursts are so frequent, meaningless and LOUD, I got tired of taking my headphones off and putting them back on every few seconds.

    And as another review said: This isn't a comedy, it's not a musical, it's not a drama, it's . . . well, it's kind of nothing. A very loud nothing.
  • Okay, it might not be Godard's most accessible film, but it certainly is his most delightful. And although not without cynicism, it's also probably his least cynical film. It keeps his traditional theme of people never being able to relate to one another, that effective communication is almost impossible, however it does it in such a fun, lighthearted way. It's an homage to the MGM-style musical's of the 40's and 50's, but not in any conventional way. I don't know. All in all I think it's a beautiful, exuberant picture and perhaps my favourite Godard film other than "Contempt", and certainly not as depressingly sad. Or maybe it is.
  • Not a musical, not a comedy, hardly a tribute to Hollywood movies -- not much of anything, really. I've seen Brigitte Bardot sex farces of the same period that remain fresher, edgier, even more cinematically inventive than this. Aside from "Breathless", isn't it time to admit Godard is among the world's most overrated auteurs? That more than Eric Rohmer or Joseph L Mankiewicz his films are mainly people talking, and the talk is none too scintillating? Wasn't his acclaim more a product of political fashion than artistic achievement? Is formal experimentation such a great virtue when it seems intended less to illuminate than to confound and alienate? Could the sentimental "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" actually be a far more more daring and radical (not to mention entertaining) formal experiment? The shabby-looking Fox Lorber DVD (with pale optically-printed subtitles) doesn't help matters at all.
  • WhimsicalVonia21 March 2018
    A Woman Is a Woman (French: Une femme est une femme) (1961)

    Comedy? Think not. Drama? Too confused to care. Musical? Satire. Romance? She sleeps with best friend. Visual zest, but not much else.

    Tanka, literally "short poem", is a form of poetry consisting of five lines, unrhymed, with the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable format. #Tanka #PoemReview
  • Only a few played with film the way Godard did. "A Woman Is a Woman", his first film in color, is a "musical-comedy" about Angela (the beautiful, underrated Anna Karina, Godard's then wife/muse, in perhaps her most iconic role), an exotic dancer who wants to have a baby. As her boyfriend, Émile Récamier (the late Jean-Claude Brialy) doesn't like the idea, she goes after his friend Alfred Lubitsch (Jean-Paul Belmondo). However, Angela's desire is just a pretext for Godard to explore his visual, intellectual, musical and, of course, cinematic games (in one scene, Belmondo meets Jeanne Moreau at a café and asks "How's 'Jules & Jim" coming along?") with this adorably inventive, amusing and sexy ride. One of his most accessible films, "A Woman Is a Woman" is a good example of why Godard was such a revolutionary, and a great introduction to his filmography. Oh, and to hear Karina singing "Chanson d'Angela" and Charles Aznavour's "Tu t'laisses Aller" is a slice of movie heaven. 10/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Une femme est une femme" (1961) is the second Goddard's film – his dissection of a traditional Musical and Comedy. It may seem silly and naïve at times but it is a funniest and most enjoyable of his films that I've seen so far. A pretty stripper Angela (Anna Karina) wants a child. She decided to become a respectable bourgeois mother and wife but her dear husband Emil (Jean - Claude Briali) is categorically against her decision. He loves his wife but he loves his freedom even more, and the child means the end of freedom. Angela turns for help to Emil's friend, Alfred (Jean - Paul Belmondo). He is ready to do anything for Angela because he's been deeply and desperately in love with her ...But a woman is a woman and blessed is he who truly knows what she wants.

    7/10
  • Jean-Luc Godard's first two films (À bout de soufflé and Le petit soldat) were thrillers that drew inspiration from American noir, but UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME (A Woman is a Woman, 1961) shifts gears drastically to a riff on American musical comedies, with the characters occasionally singing and dancing, and the camera jumping between realistic depictions and these musical interludes. But as one of the seminal figures of the French New Wave with its desire to shake up conventions, Godard added some elements of his own. As the film opens, the soundtrack keeps cutting abruptly in and out, an aural equivalent of the unsettling jump cuts with which he started his career. There are allusions to his earlier films and to his New Wave peers, and just a touch of sarcastic allusions to French political tensions.

    The plot is fairly simple: cabaret dancer Angela (Anna Karina), who is clearly not looking to buck any traditional sex roles in an age of dawning feminism, wants a baby. Unable to get it from her partner Émile (Jean-Claude Brialy), she gradually welcomes the advances of Émile's best friend Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). The way in which this triangle ultimately works out is a little surprising considering that it was made in 1961. The most appropriate adjective overall for this film is "cute". The characters spend a lot of time bickering, but always with witty ripostes. Karina here is not yet the great actress of later roles, and Godard uses her instead as essentially a Barbie doll (nice to look at, not much there), but it works well enough for this particular story. The film was shot with no fixed script, and why it's not a free-for-all, there are clearly improvisational elements here that only add to the film's charm, such as the characters' encounters with everyday Parisians in street scenes.
  • There's no denying that Jean-Luc Godard has a particular style to his films, and he makes truly bold choices. A Woman is a Woman shows just how wacky his film-making can be. At times it drives me nuts, and then other times I love it. I was worried by his choice in an early scene to drop out the accompaniment whenever our main character is singing in the club, leaving her to struggle through the song a capella, and then bringing the music back up as soon as she stops. It sounded awkward, and off-putting. But then he'd make hilarious choices like having the characters break the fourth wall all the time and, in one of the greatest scenes, having lovers get into a silent argument by just showing one another insulting book titles. I even sensed some inside jokes that I would like to explore further, because I didn't totally understand them.

    There isn't a ton of story in A Woman is a Woman, as it all seems to boil down to one young woman's desperation to have a baby. It's probably good that the movie was so simple, though, because Godard doesn't take much time to tell this story in a traditional narrative way. He's so busy surprising you with strange shot selection and unusual edits, that no one has time for details like exposition or other normal movie things. Done in the wrong way this would probably drive me nuts, but I was having so much fun with A Woman is a Woman that I didn't mind one bit. At times things got so goofy that I felt like I was watching a Mel Brooks parody film, and I was eating that stuff up. The resolution of the story is kind of stupid, and I can't say I was a huge fan of how these people handled their relationship, but I had so many laughs getting to that point that I didn't care. It's a film I'd actually want to watch again sometime, which I don't often say about French New Wave films.
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