Breathless

Breathless marks its 50th anniversary with a crisp new black-and-white 35mm print and fresh subtitles. Jean-Luc Godard’s first effort at messing with French film orthodoxy (and an ambivalent kiss to American gangster movies), the movie is a thrilling reminder of how playful the master could be. Perpetually in motion, raffish and cheap in his fedora and ill-fitting jacket, at once majestic and pathetic in his self-aggrandizing identification with Humphrey Bogart, Jean-Paul Belmondo’s two-bit car thief oozes pugnacity to authority and a double-edged promise of seduction and betrayal to his American squeeze (Jean Seberg), whose angel face will prove to contain its own multitudes. For all its romantic nihilism about love and life, there’s a lightness to Breathless (based on a story, it is often forgotten, by François Truffaut), a willingness to poke America in the ribs rather than punch it in the face that’s absent from Godard’s later, preachier work. Breathless makes alienation look like it was a lot more fun in 1960 than in the ponderous gravitas or ante-upping brutality of indie film today. Call for showtimes. (NR) ELLA TAYLOR

Oct. 8-21, 2010

 
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