Une Femme Mariée (Jean-Luc Godard / France, 1964):
(Une Femme Mariée: Suite de fragments d'un film tourné en 1964; A Married Woman)

Le Theatre et l’Amour of amnesiac suburbia, with lacy brassieres filmed like items in a vast fridge. The woman (Macha Méril) is a spry Parisian cupcake, placid and lewd, ping-ponging between pilot hubby (Philippe Leroy) and thespian lover (Bernard Noël). Cubist editing abstracts the illicit lovemaking (limbs, shoulders, necks in static close-ups) until she materializes in full, donning Janet Leigh’s pointy bra. (Hitchcock, in a cardboard cameo a la Marienbad, approves.) At home, the husband contemplates this restless fashion-plate: "Where does my image of you begin? How do I tell the difference between reality and my desires?" Leroy broods over the Auschwitz trials but memory is not for Méril, who dotes on the suppleness of her bust. "In French, all great ideas are in the feminine," declares Roger Leenhardt after dinner; no mannequin, Méril shoots back: "Funny how men never want women to do what they do." Firing on every cylinder, all Jean-Luc Godard has to do to spear a culture of commoditized inundation is leaf through Elle magazine. Cocteau drawings, Molière’s "reflections of comedy," Rossellini’s Holocaust anecdote. Wife and lover in pajamas, a novelty record and a laterally panning camera make for a four-minute little tour de force of dawning alienation. The woman’s internal pensées versus Madame Céline’s (Rita Maiden) zesty recollection of coarse sex. Night and Fog at the airport theater. "Fragments." The progression is from Une Femme est une Femme toward 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, with anticipations here and there of Alphaville’s the-future-is-now gaggery. A continuous, penetrating dance of misogyny and feminism, and a chronicle of a busy afternoon of folks jumping in and out of cars and zipping from store to store. Godard’s welter of references both flattens the heroine and provide a crumb trail toward awareness -- Racine in the hotel room is the turning point, the hands that came together at the onset separate at the close (cf. The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse). Cinematography by Raoul Coutard. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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