Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Certificate: Héloïse Gode, Kamel Abdeli and Richard Chevallier
Running Time: 69 minutes
Release Date: March 13th
Film critics often get tarred with a very negative brush; a bunch of old crotchety fart-sniffers who wouldn’t recognise pure entertainment like Guardians of the Galaxy or The LEGO Movie if their careers depended on it, the type of people who refer to the “lyrical poetry of the silver screen” and seem to have lost touch entirely in how to just sit back and enjoy a film without constantly second-guessing their own opinion, should they find themselves completely out of touch with what other ‘revered’ critics opinions. Unfortunately this tarring is often entirely accurate, and can be the only real explanation as to why Jean-Luc Godard’s latest is on the receiving of so many five-star reviews, not to mention the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Trying to decipher what is actually happening in Goodbye to Language is what those same snobby critics will tell you is up to your own interpretation, but even after reading the official synopsis of the movie’s plot, you’ll be none the wiser. There is a man (Kamel Adbeili) and a woman (Heloise Godet), and they have conversations ranging from the unoriginality of Hitler to the only time the genders are equal is when they are having a poop, while one of them is having a poop. There is a dog, who sometimes lives in their house but often finds itself in nature, as a narrator reads out quotes from Claude Monet. The dog also poops.
The kind of foreign art-house film that is more indecipherable and avant-garde than even the most pointed parody of foreign art-house films, it’s hard to see what Godard’s intent was, other than to embrace 3D and show that it can be used in even the most eventless of dramas. For the first twenty minutes of the film, you’ll be convinced that the projector is broken; shot on everything from Go-Pro handhelds to high-end tech-cameras, the film stutters to life and cuts to black often and without warning, sometimes subtitles come up to translate the dialogue and sometimes it doesn’t, the classical soundtrack repeats and skips at the most random of entry points, but then you realise that this is Godard’s goal.
Then there’s the 3D, which is sometimes used to original but head-ache inducing effect as the left and right image show two completely different images, simultaneously superimposed over each other. Is it a narrative on the different interpretations of the left and right brain? Is it Godard reclaiming the third dimension from Hollywood blockbusters and showing how to use the money-grabber as something wholly new? All of the above? None of the above? You won’t care, you’ll be too busy trying to massage away a migraine.
It is perhaps too simplistic to compare a genius like Godard to the effervescent, easy-to-consume likes of Hollywood’s greatest recent output, as the 85 years old genius is deserving of recognition for trying something new. But just because he is a undeniable legend within film-making does not give him an automatic pass for creating something this stiflingly esoteric and entirely unenjoyable.