Body of Work: Godard’s Every Man for Himself at Film Forum

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Published November 15, 2010

 

FILM STILL COURTESY OF FILM FORUM

In a well-timed run that coincides with the honorary Academy Award he received on Saturday (though not in person), a new 35mm print of Jean-Luc Godard’s “second first film,” Every Man for Himself  (1980) is now playing at Film Forum. The film, which was heralded as his commercial comeback, is brilliantly imbued with those well-known Godard traits and arrangements: fractured rhythm and stop-motion, existing conditions, ornery conversations between couples about sex and infidelity, literary allusions (in this case recordings of readings by Marguerite Duras), the detached humiliation and stoically absurd demands of prostitution clients, detailed periphery, poker-faced and impassive maxims about love and life, discordant repeat sounds and music.

In this story, Paul (Jacques Dutronc), Denise (Nathalie Baye), and Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert, who also stars in the new White Material) are characters whose lives intertwine—but never with the convenience of coincidence. Their relationships are desperate and dissatisfied, and though the audience might not immediately ally with individual characters, each performance weaves into the film’s fabric. As Godard explains, “Cinema is not one image after another, it is one image plus another out of which is formed a third, the latter being formed by the viewer the moment he or she makes contact with the film.”

EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF PLAYS AT FILM FORUM THROUGH NOVEMBER 25; NEW YORKER CRITIC AND GODARD BIOGRAPHER RICHARD BRODY WILL INTRODUCE THE 8:20 PM SCREENING ON NOVEMBER 19. TO FIND OUT MORE AND PURCHASE TICKETS, VISIT FILMFORUM.ORG.