After reminding us how powerful and moving the silent cinema can be with his 2011 five-time-Oscar-winning film The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius ambitiously took on the task of making a comedic biopic of France’s living cinema legend and absurdist Jean-Luc Godard (who Isabelle Huppert pointed out at the Cannes Film Festival 70th anniversary — still hasn’t won a Palme d’or).
And Redoutable isn’t just a by-the-numbers biopic, rather it’s brazenly based upon a book about Godard, Un an apres, written by his second wife Anne Wiazemsky, and let’s just say their relationship ended with its fair share of drama.
Hazanavicius did give Godard a heads up that he was making Redoubtable, by sending the director the script and even giving him a chance to view the film. Those offers were met with silence. During filming, actress Stacy Martin didn’t confer with Wiazemsky in order to make the role her own. But when the now 70-year old actress of such Godard titles as La Chinoise and Week End saw the film for a second time last Sunday at the Cannes premiere, she continued to be impressed.
“I am at the same time the best and the worst of the spectators,” said Wiazemsky to the AFP, “The director and actor have succeeded in making this odious character, in grotesque speeches, emotional and funny.”
Redoubtable focuses on Godard’s relationship with Wiazemsky against the 1968 Revolution in France. It was a time when Godard wanted to be taken seriously for his politics versus his populist cinema. He would stand by students in rallies and film them, however, his public speeches were always tongue-tied. Even worse, Godard was never taken seriously since he was a member of the establishment as a celebrity, a facet of society that the students were rebelling against. “It’s a story of a man who wants to change, and in changing, he betrays her. She married a man and he wants to kill that man to become another man,” explains Hazanavicius here about the movie.
Reviews about France’s cinematic absurdist have pointed out how Redoubtable has the breeziness of a Woody Allen comedy, as Louis Garrel plays Godard as a hysterically self-doubting man. “He’s a punk” says Garrel on Godard’s continual public pratfalls at student rallies whereby he would often embarrass himself, “Jean-Luc Godard is very funny and the film is playing all the time with a lot of things.”
“I was hypnotized by the hallucinatory resemblance between Louis Garrel and Jean-Luc,” praised Wiazemsky about Garrel’s performance to the AFP, “How he stung this phrasing, I do not know. Is the work of the actor.”
Says Hazanavicius about one of the reasons why he made Redoubtable: “There was something very intimate for me. He’s a director, his last movie was a failure, so I guess there were some things I could understood about that.”
Redoubtable is being sold by Wild Bunch. This is Hazanavicius’ third time at the Cannes Film Festival after The Artist and 2014’s The Search. Jean Dujardin won best actor in 2011 for The Artist while Uggie won The Palm Dog.