A Woman is a Woman

There was an interesting column on the AV Club about how Goddard exploded what cinema could do, a revelation which was very much appreciated at the time… and yet, no one really followed in his foot steps. It asked the question: why didn’t more filmmakers pick up on Goddard’s stylistic inventions?

Well, it was probably because they wanted to make watchable films. I understand that this film is technically innovative, but it's also insufferable, because the skeleton that the story is built on is so unpleasant. This is a movie about a childish woman who regularly demands that her petulant sulking boyfriend impregnate her. We are told repeatedly that they really love each other, that they are going through these fights because of passion, but all they ever do is fight and they both seem like ill prepared teenagers more than functional adults. I didn’t want either of these people to continue being people, much less to bring more people in the world that would end up just like them.

Of course, this movie's legacy isn't built on it's narrative prowess, it's built on it's audacious style. Your mileage may vary depending on how 'challenging' you want your movies to be, but for me many of Godard's directorial choices felt pretentious. The score is constantly calling attention to itself by starting and stopping and by being too loud to recede into the background. I get what Goddard is trying to do, and I agree that overwhelming or omnipresent scores can be problematic crutches when used by inferior filmmakers, but it created this sarcastic tone of forced whimsy that really grated on me. There was a smugness to it, a sense that he knows more about how to make movies in the correct way than other filmmakers do, that soured the whole thing.

I think more filmmakers haven’t gone down this particular avant garde path because they recognized that there is a novelty to doing something like this once that later iterations would lack. The second time A Woman is a Woman appeared at a film festival it would be derided for being derivative, and if it appeared in a movie theater it would be jeered for being unpalatable. There’s just no incentive for people to try to continue in Goddard’s footsteps, because most people want a movie that is a movie, not a Woman is a Woman.

Winner: The Cat

A Woman is a Woman on IMDB