Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave auteur who shot to fame with 1960’s “Breathless,” has a new movie that’s opening in Austin on Friday, but there’s a caveat. It’s screening only once a day, and only at one theater, the Alamo South.
Still, for adventurous Central Texas cinephiles, the movie, “Goodbye to Language 3D,” shouldn’t be missed.
I saw the movie at the Cannes Film Festival last May, but it hasn’t screened in Austin, so it’s risky to write a full review based on memories of many months ago. But I can say it doesn’t have a plot that can easily be described. Instead, it’s a meditation of various philosophical issues. It centers on a married woman and a single man, who have a tumultuous relationship over time. And there’s a dog.
Godard has long been associated with experimental cinema, and introduced the world to the hand-held camera, much to some people’s dismay. This time, he’s experimenting with 3D in unusual ways. For instance, in one scene, a naked man and a naked woman appear on screen, and the image is quite blurry through the 3D glasses. But if you close one eye you can see the naked woman, and if you close the other eye, you can see the naked man. It’s sort of a 3D of choice, and this goes on at special moments throughout the film.
It’s a playful device, and the movie is much more playful than some of his last few films. A big part of the movie focuses on Godard’s dog, a mutt that wanders around nature as voiceovers discuss what the dog might be thinking or doing. Godard sees the dog as being much more in touch with the world than humans. And he notes at one point that dogs are the only living creatures who love someone else, their masters, more than they love themselves.
Make no mistake. This is strictly an arthouse film. It was hard to sit in the audience at Cannes and not think that you were a part of a French version of the “Saturday Night Live” skit the Sprockets, featuring the pretentious avant-garde German duo, dressed in black. But that’s somehow appropriate, since it makes you laugh at the whole scene. And some of “Goodbye to Language” is quite funny.
The jurors at Cannes gave Godard, who’s in his 80s, the jury prize for “Goodbye to Language.” Godard shared that prize with Xavier Dolan, the 25-year-old French-Canadian director, for “Mommy,” which is scheduled to open in Austin. Feb. 6.
The mutt, named Roxy, won the Palme Dog, the tongue-in-cheek prize for the best performance by a dog in Cannes.