Pierrot Le Fou

Pierrot Le Fou


It’s funny critics should come up right near my old buddy Jean-Luc Godard. Most every critic I know, or read, seem to have this popular opinion of the man. He burst out onto the scene, the greatest thing since sliced bread (which I’m told time and again, must have been pretty great), got muddled into politics and eventually there was a great fall, from which he never recovered.

Never mind that at the time a lot of critics were seeing his films out of order (he started to make films at a clip of 2 or 3 a year in the sixties), or that he is still working today: Godard was a great filmmaker from the past; and apparently his relevance wore off sooner than Truffaut (who basically succumbed to making the types of films he rebelled against early in his career while Godard kept getting zanier and zanier to the point of near incomprehensibility at times).

Even folks who are fans of the man, admit that they are often bored by much of his work, but that the bits of greatness that shine through are certainly worth the sludging. I think a lot of the boredom arose from Godard’s freedom in lack of adhering to any predetermined length.  In an old French magazine he states that his projects are never preconceived as features of a typical length, but that he has just been lucky that most fall into that category.  And while two hours may often be a typical length for a film, unfortunately it is often too lengthy for a Godard picture, and while “Pierrot Le Fou” mostly consists of greatness, at 110 minutes and a plot that begs for head scratching, it is too long.

But Godard fans have known this all along. In fact, it was an inherent joke in his first film, “About de Souffle” (Breathless), which ran along at an impossible jump cut clip, trying to keep up with the speed of the action, only then to subside into long, drawn out interior sequences while our couple (including, again, Belmondo) talk and frolic in bed.

And Belmondo, or Ferdinand, or Pierrot, as Anna Karina likes to call him in this, is part of another crazy couple in this film. And I suppose that the film is about this couple, the last couple as Godard called them. They go on the run. They run to escape civilization. They have a hard time doing it and encounter many gas stations. This is the plot. I mean, the poster gives away the ending. Seriously, look up at it. But, you are not watching the film for the plot. But because you love movies. And you will love this one. And be in awe. And yes, it might be a bit long.

But that might be my only complaint about the picture, which looks gorgeous in the way that Godard’s color pictures did in the sixties. And with Jean Paul Belmondo at the top of his game, and Godard at his most hilariously irrelevant (and relevant) and cinematic. Funny and horrific at times, it is fun at the movies, and unlike Oliver Stone, Godard may make films that allow for popcorn and bathroom breaks. For a guy who is usually considered ornery, that’s pretty nice of the man.

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