A Married Woman;
Made in U.S.A.;
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
Go, go, Godard!
Reviewed by Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 24, 2009
A Married WomanKoch Lorber Films, $26.98
Made in U.S.A.Criterion, $29.95
2 or 3 Things I Know About HerCriterion, $29.95
The mid-Sixties was a fertile and transformational period for French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. Since his arrival on the international film scene in 1960 with Breathless, the director was hailed as cinema's cultural savior. Godard's films of the Sixties blended the personal and the political with shards of pulp narrative, textual interplay, and movie and other social references to create works that purported to be about "everything" (much like the Seinfeld creators insisted their show was about "nothing"). With La Chinoise and Weekend in 1967 leading the way, Godard's filmmaking over the following decade grew ever more political and didactic as it explored Marxist theory and the collective work process. These three newly released films – A Married Woman (1964), Made in U.S.A. (1966), and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967), all filmed by the arresting image-maker Raoul Coutard – offer guideposts toward understanding Godard's shift from his early "movie" movies to his more stridently political phase.
A Married Woman, which has long been unavailable for home viewing in the States, stars Macha Méril as the title character who we observe over a 24-hour period as she vacillates between her husband and lover and confirms her pregnancy. The film's subtitle, Suite de fragments d'un film tourné en 1964 en noir et blanc ("fragments of a film shot in 1964, in black and white"), suggests its fractured filmmaking style. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her also follows a woman (played by Marina Vlady) over a 24-hour period but is filmed in color and uses a housewife's prostitution as a metaphor for the French condition. Both films probe consumer culture and incorporate advertising images to make the case for the universal marketplace, which becomes the paradigm for every aspect of modern life. A Married Woman must also be seen within the context of Godard's relationship with his wife, Anna Karina, the actress who starred in six of his Sixties films, including Made in U.S.A., their last collaboration. The infidelity depicted in A Married Woman is consistent with troubles in the Godard-Karina marriage at the time of its filming and lends an ironic touch to the French censors' demand that Godard substitute the more specific article "A" for his original generalist title, The Married Woman. Made in U.S.A. is the most conventionally narrative of these three offerings, although there is nothing conventional about the film. Karina plays a journalist/detective in this film, which never received a U.S. release until this year's current theatrical revival (Made in U.S.A. screens at Austin's Paramount Theatre on Aug. 18 and 19), thus making this DVD release an important contribution to U.S. Godard-philes. Although there are no extras on Koch Lorber's disc of A Married Woman, its pristine black-and-white transfer is treasure enough. The other two Criterion releases are loaded with valuable extras, as is typical of that company's packages.