Set in the sixties, Redoubtable is the story of the turbulent marriage between renowned French film maker Jean Luc Godard and much younger actress Anne Wiazemsky, based on her memoir and as seen through the lens of director Michel Hazanavicius.
They get together in 1967, when 17 year old Anne (Stacy Martin) stars in his film “La Chinoise” and at first everything goes well. But after they marry, Godard emerges increasingly as a pretentious, jealous and self obsessed egoist, desperately trying to appear “with it”, as the expression of the era had it and attempting to hang onto his youth through his involvement with the student revolution of ’68. His deliberately shocking speech to his supposed comrades about the Jews being the new Nazis is not only a feeble attempt to curry favour with the radical youth, but is puerile and virtually incomprehensible.
As Godard Louis Garrel gives a good performance of a character, who comes over as thoroughly dislikable and a bit of a bore. Admittedly we are seeing him through the eyes of the woman who his ex-wife, so it is unlikely to be a flattering portrait. The film’s empathy is very much with Anne in a lively performance by the very pretty Ms Martin. There are also good supporting performances from Bérénice Bejo as journalist and film maker Michèle Rosier and Micha Lescot as her partner Jean-Pierre Bamberger, who are part of Anne and Jean Luc’s circle and who get caught up in their marital dramas.
Hazanavicus, who showed such a talent for affectionate pastiche with his Oscar winning film “The Artist”, puts in some effective Godard style visual flourishes, witness his beautiful shots of Anne’s naked body. The madness of the sixties is well recreated both visually and politically, there’s a particularly amusing sequence set at the Cannes Film Festival and a good running gag about how Godard is constantly breaking his glasses but still always manages to have a pair of cool “shades” (sixties for sunglasses), when required for the image he is trying to project.
But while “The Artist” may have piqued the curiosity of young film goers to have a look at the real films of the silent era, I doubt this will encourage them to delve into the work of Jean Luc Godard. It could well in fact discourage anyone who doesn’t know his work from exploring it. He comes over as a real sixties male chauvinist pig!