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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

227 of 1001 Movies: Contempt (1963)

I have to say I was puzzling over how to feel with this movie after it went off. There were moments I thought I didn't like it, and then others where I could see how brilliant it was. For me the biggest setback is the slowness. I just can't help it, movies that border on plot-less leave me a little lackluster. Jean Luc-Godard was one of the most innovative and creative directors of the 60's though. The fact that this is a movie that is a movie within a movie is quite interesting. We're watching a movie about a guy who is writing a movie, whose life plays out as a movie.

Summary: Paul is hired to make a movie that is about Ulysses, but the director, Jeremy wants him to make it more commercial. Jeremy seems to have a thing for Paul's wife, and he invites her to ride with him to his house that he has invited them both to. She insist on riding with Paul, but he wants her to ride with Jeremy. She takes this as an indication she is being used to get a better payment when it comes time to pay Paul, and this puts a huge riff in their relationship.


Acting: The acting is really good in this movie. It's what makes scenes like Paul and Camille arguing at their apartment for at least twenty minutes as compelling as they are. Michel Piccoli is Paul, and I felt the conflict he had with Camille. I felt he cared for her, but he was also a really huge jerk. It seems that Godard has this thing with just portraying men as jerks in his movie but not exactly realizing they just appear to be jerks. Brigitte Bardot also made her debut in this movie. It appears from the cover of this poster by the introduction of Martin Scorsese. Bardot though puts all her sexual appeal in the movie. To be honest though I just felt the scenes of her nude just felt exploited.

Filming: The movie is brilliantly bright and colorful. The filming quality captures the beauty of the surroundings, and it's like they chose the clothing to make the color pop further. Godard got a hold of some color finally, and he wanted to use it to further the effect. In the beginning when it's just Paul and Camille in bed he shows the colors changing from red to blue for an interesting effect. The shots in this movie also feel very modern for the time. We move with the characters through their rooms, and peer into their lives from different corners.

Plot: The plot is actually based on a book, which I was unaware of. I like the idea that this guy, Paul, had been enlisted to shoot a movie, The Odyssey. We hear them discuss Penelope's character and how Ulysses made her feel when he left and encouraged her to date other men should he not return. It seems that Paul doesn't recognize the same feelings being represented in Camille when he acts so nonchalant about her going with Jeremy knowing he has a crush on her. Elements of the story he is working on writing to film begins to be mirrored in his own life leaving it to play out like a movie. It's interesting to catch on to, even though some parts were lost on me.

Contempt is honestly what I expected from a French movie. It's sexy, it's thoughtful, and well shot. Godard is an interesting director, and one that I feel is an acquired taste. He's good, but not something you just re-watch again because it was entertaining. I thought the acting was good, and Bardot was interesting, but didn't have to take off her clothes so much to make it so. I'm sure some might say differently though.

Rating 7 of 10.


Contempt (1963) on IMDb

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