access CINEMA release Our Children opens in Irish Film Institute and Triskel Christchurch from Friday May 10th
access>CINEMA releases the Belgian drama Our Children (A Perdre La Raison) at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin and Triskel Christchurch Cork from today, May 10th. + more
Slow Motion (1980)
Original title Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie)
Director Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard once referred to Slow Motion as his "second first film". It was in fact, his first release on 35mm after more than a decade's experimentation with video - his previous commercial film was the coruscating anti-bourgeois rant Weekend (1967). It may well be a return to celluloid and commercial filmmaking - the Cain to video's Abel in Godard parlance - but Slow Motion is anything but mainstream.
French singer Jacques Dutronc plays Paul Godard, a middle-aged director in a state of quiet and impotent apoplexy as he considers the parlous state of his love-life, his family life and his position in a world that is baffling to him. Paul is separating from Denise (Baye), who believes she'll find peace by moving to the country. "Buying a bike and going to live in the mountains won't change your life", Paul predicts. Every urbanite thinking of downsizing knows he is probably right.
To complete the trio of souls on the look out for change is Isabelle, played with characteristic froideur by Huppert. Coming to the town for independence, she sells her body for money, a straightforward transaction which brings her no great pain. But Isabelle is trapped in a system of commerce that relies on her capacity for self-humiliation. "No one can be independent, not the whore or the typist, the housewife or the duchess... Only the banks can be independent and banks are murderers", Isabelle learns from her would-be pimp as he roughs her up in a deserted car park. Perennial Godard preoccupations resurface: fractured human relations, the pitfalls of sexual relationships, commerce and prostitution as the twin conditions of contemporary living. It is tempting to read much into the similarities between the director and his protagonist Paul. Weekend's violence and overt anger have been replaced by a more tongue-in-check unveiling of the struggle for survival. There are even a few funny passages, with a gag about rubbish projectionists hitting the spot for Godard's fellow cinephiles. Paul - and Godard - remain angry but this is ultimately a futile state of affairs. 'Sauve Qui Peut La Vie', the film's original French title is justly translated as "every man for himself." In perhaps the ultimate in pessimistic fantasy, Paul - and perhaps Godard - fails to make it to the end of the film alive.
The heavy subject matter aside, technically speaking, this is a challenging but exciting film to watch. Godard is ever inventive, eloquent and playful in his approach to sound, editing and montage. Slow Motion, the prosaic English title, evokes the film's particular fascination with this technique. It does express the emotional and social stasis in which the protagonists find themselves. Cross-cutting, cross-fading, intertitles (although relatively few compared to some Godard films) and a shifting soundscape also serve to destabilise, titillate or mess with the mind. There are moments of visual beauty, too. Denise, captured in freeze-frame and slow motion, cycles through country lanes and lingers at the sidelines of some obscure rural sporting event. Godard examines her in close-up, a man fascinated by the enigma of a woman who would leave him to find freedom, and by how futile this is.
Running Time 87m