The idea is simple: A married woman and a single man meet. They love, they argue, fists fly. A dog strays between town and country. The seasons pass. The man and woman meet again. The dog finds itself between them. The other is in one, the one is in the other and they are three. The former husband shatters everything. A second film begins: the same as the first, and yet not. From the human race we pass to metaphor. This ends in barking and a baby's cries.
I saw no point to this film therefore it is a little difficult to try and make any constructive criticism. Goddard is, of course, famous and iconic so those who assume to know what the film is about will, no doubt, give it maximum stars, but I can only give it one; albeit just for giving the actors and film crew employment. I can see that some of the scenes are in 3D and coloured as per 60's psychedelia, but such effort was lost on me as my TV is ordinary run-of-the-mill. The dialogue (when translated into subtitles) is cliche stuff; state of relationships mixed in with random existentialist musings. There is quite a bit of walking around a house undressed cut in with a dog running about in the countryside (example of dialogue: 'a dog is naked because he is naked'). Well, take it or leave it. To be honest, just towards the end of the movie, somebody called, so I never saw the last 10 minutes or so. I didn't bother rewinding.
As the 3D film gimmick once again curls back into its shell for a few more years, evocative director Jean-Luc Godard sends it off with one last experimental and artistic farewell. Perhaps it’s even his final farewell to film the way he tries to find some meaning in both the human tongue and the stereoscopic three-dimensional format. Can the shifting of perceptions be used for focusing more on human life or is it simply just for making the picture look prettier? Is there some deeper meaning behind our words or is language ultimately feudal when heard from different ears? It’s these many questions that continue to haunt the viewer throughout the picture in an experience that is all sorts of avant garde peculiar.
I’m regretting not having seen this film in 3D because I feel as though I’m not seeing everything Goddard wanted on the screen from a 2D perspective. Goodbye to Language is already a warped jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces shuffled around. Without the 3D, I feel as though a few of the pieces have been taken away and Godard is now playing madlibs with my perceptions. It’s one of the few times where I ever felt like 3D added more to a film and wasn’t a gimmick of how close the ball bounces off the screen into your face.
What exactly is the film about? Best guess with the visuals would suggest it’s about a young couple and a dog, but Godard doesn’t offer any solid narrative or plot. He takes all the dialogue to a level of strange absurdity and questionable implications. There’s no solid story - merely scenes of visual experimentation and artistic use of words. Most of the film is going to leave the audience asking both inquisitively and frustratingly “what is Godard trying to say with all this?” Is there some deeper meaning to dialogue such as “poop makes us all equal” or is it just nihilism for the words of man? One could imply that the film is more about a dog viewing our society the way the film cuts to a pooch with such lines as “animals are not naked because they are naked.” Another person could fathom that it’s about the futility of life the way we mostly see romantic couples naked, fornicating, eating and going to the bathroom. This is that certain movie that film school students go nuts for in how it’s an endless study of art.
You could have a field day with just about every line from the script. Some of it is esoterically coy and some perhaps too bold. There’s vague discussions of love and base focuses on subjects such as Nazis. In that sense, Godard also plays with just how deep we believe he really is going with all this as if he was some sinister mastermind of a cinematic trap. Likewise, his visuals are just as stirring and questioning. There are various shots of people and nature in addition to some rather strange filters. Scenes will overlay one another as if we’re seeing two different timelines at once (this was probably amazing to see in 3D). Other shots will saturate the colors to an absurd degree where you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking at. Credit should also be given to the sound design which drops and spikes at different times like a rollercoaster of an auditory test.
The film jumps around all over the place with so many ideas and visuals almost as if Godard cracked open his brain and emptied the contents all over film. It’s random, but perhaps no more than the human brain trying to make sense and connect with the world. All its talk of politics, humanity, sex, nature and defecation washes over the viewer with wave after wave of questionable scenes. Similar to films like Tree of Life, it’s a piece of art that asks more of the viewer than what it gives back. Sitting there watching the simple and weird moments of life makes you question not only what is being said but how you perceive your own life. But, again, this is probably a heavier experience in 3D which is why it’s almost twice as maddening to comprehend the full effect.
If Godard’s previous films weren’t ridiculously challenging and befuddling for everything on screen, he’s exceeded that level with Goodbye to Language. It’s hard to recommend a film such as this since I’m not entirely sure what to think of all its mad moves of freestyle cinematic art. It’s certainly not for everyone especially if this is your first Jean-Luc Godard film. God help you if you walk into this cold not knowing what to expect. Having seen the film twice, I’m still not sure just what exactly the film is trying to say if anything. This would sound like a negative, but it just makes it all the more intriguing to decipher.