A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Godard's "Pierrot Le Fou" (1966) is the same film I liked so much when it opened here in 1968, and assigned a 3.5 star rating. In fact, it is probably a better film, because the Music Box is showing it in a new 35mm print. But while I once wrote of it as "Godard's most virtuoso display of his mastery of Hollywood genres," I now see it more as the story of silly characters who have seen too many Hollywood movies.
There was a point when it was revolutionary to show young lovers flaunting society, committing crimes thoughtlessly and running hand-in-hand over hill and dale, beach and field. And then there was a point where it was post-revolutionary. Or maybe, to take a more optimistic view of the progress of cinema, pre-revolutionary.
The film stars Jean-Paul Belmondo, then 32, and Anna Karina, then 25, as Ferdinand and Marianne, Ferdinand's baby-sitter and one-time girlfriend, who run away together from a party and from their spouses. First stop, Marianne's flat, when Ferdinand goes into the next room, sees a dead body and returns to the living room. Later, she passes the body, which Godard shows us only by filming Belmondo's eyes watching her. Nice touch. And she sings a song. Then they hit the road in a series of stolen cars, supporting themselves by stickups.
It is so very boring when infatuation and sex have to take the place of a genuine interest in the other person, which Ferdinand discovers more quickly than Marianne, perhaps because that delightful and beautiful woman is mad. There are times when she wishes he were crazier and calls him "Pierrot," the name of a character from Italian stage comedy and opera who is a clown and a fool. "My name is Ferdinand," he tirelessly corrects her.