The Film (4/5)
Charlotte (played by Macha Meril) is a married woman who is having an affair with an actor (Bernard Noel) and soon discovers that she is pregnant with his child. But will she stay with husband or her lover? Sounds simple right? It isn’t because we’re talking about Jean-Luc Godard.
Jean- Luc Godard is one of the French film critics turned directors of a movement called Nouvelle Vague (or French New Wave), he is also one of the most experimental and challenging. Godard is a filmmaker who always pushes for new ways to express his mountains of ideas onto film. He is rarely worried about plot and this is what makes him a tough sale for film fans. Godard is a French filmmaker I love, but I do need to state that some of his films can be alienating (Weekend) or way too preachy (2 or 3 Things I Know About Her). It really depends on the film in question and luckily, A Married Woman is playful enough to work.
A Married Woman begins by saying “fragments of film shot in 1964, in black and white”, and you know you’re in for something special. This is just one of the unique ways the film surprises. The movie is packed with Godardian touches such as Meril breaking the fourth wall, a negative reverse shot scene in a pool, and tight close-ups on various body parts while the narration goes off topic. The film is also showered in references to pop culture such as Alfred Hitchcock posters and character’s name dropping Fantomas (the French pulp villain).
The Film is also really well acted. Macha Meril is stunning to look at and she shows a huge range of emotions. She is so cute and playful as she jumps from taxi to taxi to avoid being seen with her lover. Bernard Noel comes off as a nice guy even if you can tell that their love affair is doomed. Philippe Leroy is charming as the clueless husband. The movie is also pretty daring for a 60’s movie. The amount of nudity and suggested pubic hair is pretty shocking and it almost goes down soft core territory. The movie also contains a huge message about fake body image and commercialism. One montage shows various signs like a poster that says to please before quickly cutting to a bra ad. With so much material sandwiched in this film it’s easily one of Godard’s most re-watchable.
We get a 2.0 French audio track with a fine sound mix. The soundtrack is well balanced and never over powers the rest of the track. No hisses or cracks and be heard. The picture is in full 1080p HD from a new restoration from the original negative. For a 1964 film, this transfer looks better than a lot of films shot today. The richness of the picture is just gorgeous.
Cohen gives this Godard movie a huge load of love with its extras. This release is simply packed. We get an interview with fashion designer Agnes B, an interview with actress Macha Meril, An Interview with author Antoine de Baecque (writer of Godard Grasser Editions book), the original French trailer, the 2015 re-release trailer, and a 5-page liner notes booklet with photos from the film. I highly recommend checking out the Antoine de Baecque interview first, as it contains a huge helping of information on the film.
Cohen delivers one of the best transfers I’ve seen for a black and white film, and it’s one of Godard’s most enjoyable. If you’re a Godard fan this is an essential purchase. If your new to Godard this would make a good second or third movie to see. Highly Recommended.