Goodbye to Language
2014, NR, 70 min. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Starring Héloïse Godet, Kamel Abdeli, Richard Chevallier, Zoé Bruneau, Christian Gregori, Jessica Erickson.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Feb. 6, 2015
Cinema’s oldest enfant terrible, Jean-Luc Godard, has made his most accessible film in a decade or more – and it’s in 3-D, no less – indicating that the irascible cineaste remains an active film explorer. Goodbye to Language is the kind of cinematic essay that Godard has come to specialize in; it’s really a montage of thoughts, aphorisms, and images, and not a story, although there are some consistent characters (often naked – and how better to hold our interest in their philosophical queries?) and one dog. Godard is still shooting in digital video, but in addition to the 3-D, he ratchets up the camera’s color saturation, among other effects like superimpositions and sound distortions, to create realities that often look artificial and appear to exist in multiple planes. Similarly, Godard uses written words onscreen but often obscures our ability to fully read what they say. Despite all the film’s artifice, however, numerous shots exude the lyricism of an ode to nature. Literature, art, politics, old movies – all the director’s familiar tropes – flit by in shots that are usually no more than a few seconds long. If this sounds like your idea of hell, I’m not about to convince you otherwise, but if this kind of synaptic brainstorm sounds like an invigorating cinematic experience, I’m here to tell you that watching Goodbye to Language on a big screen will be 70 minutes well spent.