Monday, December 8, 2008

À bout de souffle

À bout de souffle (English: Breathless) is a film I recently saw with my French class. It's a very famous film that set the stereotype for French people up until the present day (it was originally released in 1960). Jean Seberg stars in the film as a young journalist living in Paris who has an ambiguous relationship with a criminal. Jean Seberg is actually from Marshalltown, Iowa but moved to France in the 60's and became a very famous French movie actress.

French cinema differs from American movies in a couple ways: French films are usually constructed of conversation more than action. This is a tenant of French culture where conversation is elevated to an artform in itself. The conversations between Patricia (Jean Seberg) and Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) vary from life aspirations to cultural differences, but most of the time Michel is just trying to get Patricia to sleep with him. The film is also different in that there is usually somewhat of an open ended conclusion. A lot of Americans find these types of endings inconclusive, but they are actually meant to stir the viewer's emotions.

I suppose the stereotype stems from Michel's promiscuity and rather unabashed appetite for sexuality (though it's still fairly mild for today's standards, America in the 60's would find it somewhat distasteful and strange). I found the film interesting even if only because it offered a glimpse of what Paris was like in the 1960's. If film noir is your thing, you might enjoy this. I also recommend "Classe Tous Risques" which features Jean-Patrick Belmondo in a somewhat similar role in a crime drama set in France during the same time period. Ciao.

No comments: