10 December 2003 | davidals
I don't think I've ever been so fascinated by a film that offered no fun whatsoever - this is kinda like sitting through a symposium on semiotics. As an exercise in deconstruction (or audience manipulation), COMMENT CA VA is hypnotic, offering a voice-over debate revolving around the effect of images upon a viewer, which is brought to life by contrasting (against the voice-over) white noise, long close-ups of a woman typing (not a man's fingers, as the woman is cast in a secretarial position even as a discourse questioning the kind of social structures that would include sexism or stereotypes plays out in the background, thus challenging the sexual politics of the intellectual milieu that such a debate would be the product of), and montages of static images of riot-and-strike scenes, which focus the discussion of how the expressions and gestures of the individuals in the captured images manipulate an audience that arrives with preconceptions and expectations that can be slotted into existing ways of viewing the world.
Intellectually and philosophically this is fascinating, and descendants of this interrogation of images and their power as signifiers can be found in the work more recent directors as diverse as Tsai Ming-liang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Spike Jones and Todd Haynes. But in this earlier presentation, Godard drops the fun factor to zero, creating a film that is provocative, and weirdly haunting, but very, very didactic. For die-hard fans (or theory geeks) only.