Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
The curious thing about Jean-Luc Godard's recent films is that (like good chili) they seem better the next day. This is particularly true of "Masculine Feminine," which I like a great deal more at this instant then I did at any time while I was watching it.
The film is made out of 15 scenes of varying lengths, each one introduced with a quizzical title. "We are the children of Marx and Coca-Cola," one says, and another observes that the mole has no intelligence, yet tunnels in a specific direction.
We meet a young man (Jean-Pierre Leaud) who is engagingly naive. At one time or another in almost every scene he tries unsuccessfully to flip a cigarette into his mouth in the tough-guy manner perfected by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard's first film, "Breathless." Perhaps we are to understand that he is, not only the child of Marx and Coca-Cola, but also the child of Godard, and that the French "New Wave" is coming full circle and recording what has happened to those influenced by it.
These young people, as a narrator tells us, go to the movies all the time: "We went seeking greatness in movies, and were most often disappointed. We waited for a movie like the one we wanted to make, and secretly wanted to live." Can it be that this is a movie about kids trying to speak and live as if they were characters in a Godard movie?