Socialist Worker

Redoubtable—a flawed take on ‘68 through Godard’s eyes

A new film about Jean-Luc Godard and 1968 would be better if it focused a little more on the latter and a little less on the former, says?Bethan Turner

Issue No. 2604

Louis Garrel as Jean-Luc Godard

Louis Garrel as Jean-Luc Godard

The events in France in May 1968 saw a huge social upheaval with millions of workers and students in revolt.

Director Michel Hazanavicius’s interpretation of events comes through clearly in Redoubtable.

In one interview he described May 1968 as “bourgeois students rioting”.

It was far more than that.

Director Jean-Luc Godard, played by Louis Garrel, spends almost the entire film having an existential crisis about his films.

The uprising made him question everything about his previous work and the film industry in general.

Godard’s behaviour is clearly shown as being driven by the events of May 1968.

But the feeling that this is a world turning upside down is largely missing from the film. He occasionally goes on demonstrations and at one point sets a car on fire. But the whole thing is treated like it’s some sort of exciting diversion rather than a serious challenge to the French state.

Goddard’s successful attempt to shut the Cannes film festival down in solidarity with the movement is portrayed via his wife hearing a brief segment on the radio.

The film is based on Godard’s ex-wife’s memoirs, so a focus on their relationship is to be expected.

Despite this, it lends the film an air of predictability.

It seems a bit of a wasted opportunity to tell a story about the impact of May 68 from a different perspective.

Godard was scathingly critical of the film establishment for ignoring what was happening on the streets. The same charge could be made against Hazanavicius on the 50th anniversary of 1968.

Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps it’s all one big joke.

Nevertheless, less time with characters posing in flats and cafes and more time setting cars on fire would have been an improvement.

Redoubtable is on limited release

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