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TSPDT 2013: Numéro deux

Posted by martinteller on May 20, 2013

The “story” of this film involves a husband (Pierre Oudrey) and wife (Sandrine Battistella), their two young children, and a pair of a grandparents.  The husband has problems with impotence and the wife has problems with constipation.  There are various scenarios — an argument over the washing machine, teaching the kids about the birds and the bees — but mostly the film is interesting for its form.  It plays out almost entirely on video monitors.  Usually two monitors… sometimes showing the same thing, sometimes different things, sometimes one is just static.  Sometimes one image is superimposed on another.  There’s also a lengthy opening where Godard free-associates some thoughts while ruminating on the tools of his trade, and expounds on the nature of “the landscape” and “the factory” (terms that come up over and over again throughout the film) and the factories of moviemaking.

The title has several layers of meaning.  Godard says the film is a remake of Breathless (hence, the “number two” version).  It isn’t recognizable as such, but it may be considered a new “first film” for him, taking his cinema in a bold new direction.  “Number two” can also refer to the second video screen.  Or the woman’s role in the home.  Or the bodily function.  Like the film itself, the movie operates on many levels.

Like a lot of Godard, it’s kind of a rambling mess, but I was less put off by it than I usually am by his work.  The structural idiosyncrasies helped maintain my interest, even when I either found the content more of Godard’s same old shtick or I was floundering to find some meaning in it.  There’s an anger and frustration to the film, in the crudeness of the material (numerous references to defecation and rape, graphic sexual imagery) and in the struggle to define a new type of filmmaking.  The political content was not overbearing, I didn’t feel like I was being brow-beaten by a barrage of quotes.

I’m in no rush to see it again, but for once it didn’t make me hate the guy.  Rating: Fair (67)


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