It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
First, a brief preface. Every time I review a film by Jean-Luc Godard, I receive outraged letters from readers who hated it. It is suggested that my reviews and myself join Godard on the trash heap of history; that the customers wuz robbed. A common complaint is that Godard "made no sense." And so on.
So let this be a warning: You probably won't like "Pierrot le Fou." One of Godard's films, seen by itself, can be a frustrating and puzzling experience. But when you begin to get into his universe, when you've seen a lot of Godard, you find yourself liking him more and more. One day something clicks, and Godard comes together. And then, perhaps, you decide that if he is not the greatest living director he is certainly the most audacious, the most experimental, the one who understands best how movies work.
"Pierrot Le Fou" marked the beginning of Godard's current period. Before it came the black-and-white films -- cool, quick and austere, with an emphasis on interpersonal relationships. After it came the Godard of color, wide screen and an increasing preoccupation with politics, American culture, violence, Vietnam and movies. (All of Godard's films since "Pierrot le Fou" have essentially been movies about themselves -- a statement hard to explain unless you've seen them).
"Pierrot le Fou" was made in 1966 but only released in the United States this year . Thus it comes to Chicago after "Weekend" (1968), a film it superficially resembles. Both films are about a man and a woman on a cross-country odyssey. The form is convenient because literally anything can happen. (When the couple in "Weekend" entered that forest, they even met Emily Bronte.) But "Pierrot le Fou" is more relaxed, more fun, less bitter than "Weekend." And it contains Godard's most virtuoso display of his mastery of Hollywood genres.