Masculin Féminin

Masculin Féminin

Makes a great double-bill with Richard Lester's The Knack...and How To Get It. Godard depicts the terror and ignorance of the kids; Lester plays up the fun and fancy free flippancy. Both gives them a complexity and respect still unmatched in cinema's greatest explorations of youth.

The operative mood here is one of unevenness and pent-up anguish. The kids are separated into two camps: those who decide to inform themselves on the state of the world, and are therefore unhappy (Jean Pierre Leaud, Truffaut's orphan all-grown-up into a nicens little Marxist) and those who wish to isolate themselves from the problems of the world, and are therefore exceedingly happy (Chantal Goya, a French ye-ye singer with the talent of a Justin Bieber and the marketing team of a Spector girl group). Though they remain largely types throughout the entire picture, Godard zooms in at specific moments in their humdrum and skittering lives to humanize their ignoble faults. One bed scene of Leaud and Goya covertly groping one another is worth a thousand HBO sex scenes. The tenderness, the refusal to go into the moment, and yet the painfully tragic awareness that these lucid moments will not transcend the sexual atmosphere of that one night in bed—that's what makes Masculin Féminin a Godard worthy of its masterful artist. When he allows his political discourse to harmonize with brutal truths (about people, about the act of movie-watching, about peer pressure in social groups), he comes up with unabashed winners (see, also, Contempt and Weekend).

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