Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten Kristen Stewart Is First American Actress Nominated for César Awards in 30 Years; 'Saint Laurent' Leads with Ten How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO How They Sustained the Times Square Momentum in 'Birdman' VIDEO 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave 6 Things to Know About Sexy Sundance Breakout 'Diary of a Teenage Girl,' Part of Sundance's Women's New Wave Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Sundance Raves About Ewan McGregor as Jesus and the Devil in 'Last Days in the Desert' Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Watch: Jason Segel on Playing David Foster Wallace in Sundance's 'End of the Tour' (Exclusive Interview) Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Filmmakers, Give Us Your Numbers! Sundance and Cinereach Unveil The Transparency Project Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Sundance Market Explodes with 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Top Ten Takeaways: Polarizing 'American Sniper' Speeds Past $200 Million; Lopez Trounces Depp Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint Arthouse Audit: Panic Time? 'Mommy,' 'Red Army,' 'Black Sea,' 'Cake,' 'Duke of Burgundy' All Disappoint 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder 2015 PGA Winners: 'Birdman' Steals 'Boyhood''s Awards Season Thunder Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Watch: Nicole Kidman Talks 'Strangerland' at Sundance (Exclusive Video Interview) Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 
'The Witch' Sundance Acquisitions Market Heats Up with 'The Bronze' and 'The Witch' Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Sundance: Netflix Inks Four-Picture Deal with Duplass Brothers Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Early Reviews Portend Sundance Breakout in Stylish Historical Horror 'The Witch' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Sundance: 5 Things to Expect From Alex Gibney's Damning Scientology Doc 'Going Clear' Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Martin Scorsese Breaks Long-Awaited 'Silence,' Set to Begin Filming This Month Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Meet the Women of 'Birdman' (Exclusive 4-Minute Featurette) Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Watch: Hitchcock's Thwarted Holocaust Documentary Comes to HBO Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Best Actor Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATED Oscar Predictions 2015 Oscar Predictions 2015

Review: Godard's 'Le Petit Soldat,' From Geneva, with Angst (TRAILER)

Thompson on Hollywood By Howard Rodman | Thompson on Hollywood April 25, 2013 at 4:11PM

Set in 1958 and shot in 1960, "Le Petit Soldat" begins the way "Breathless" begins: with a man in a car. But there’s an immediate difference. "Breathless" is relentlessly present-tense, moment-to-moment: car to cop to gun to girl. "Le Petit Soldat," Godard’s fourth feature, doesn’t barrel ahead. It looks back. Even as we see the man in the car (Michel Subor), we hear his voice intone: “For me the time for action has passed. I’ve gotten older. The time for reflection begins.”
0
Jean-Luc Godard's 'Le Petit Soldat'
Jean-Luc Godard's 'Le Petit Soldat'


"Le Petit Soldat" opens Friday at the Nuart with a new 35-millimeter print and retranslated subtitles.

Set in 1958 and shot in 1960, "Le Petit Soldat" begins the way "Breathless" begins: with a man in a car.  But there’s an immediate difference.  "Breathless" is relentlessly present-tense, moment-to-moment: car to cop to gun to girl.  "Le Petit Soldat," Godard’s fourth feature, doesn’t barrel ahead.  It looks back.  Even as we see the man in the car (Michel Subor), we hear his voice intone:

“For me the time for action has passed.  I’ve gotten older.  The time for reflection begins.”

It’s that moment in Godard’s journey where he’s pondering not only cinema’s long story, but his own.  Subor plays a character named Bruno Forestier, a deserter from the French army during the Algerian War – but when Subor/Forestier says, "Photography is truth. And cinema is truth 24 frames a second," it’s clear who’s speaking.  It’s Forestier, and it’s Subor, but it’s of course Godard.  The older, reflective Subor (and the character he portrays) are, at the time of filming, 25 and 26, respectively.  Godard was 30.

Godard’s first three features were set in Paris: "Breathless"’ Rue Campagne Première, "Une Femme est Une Femme"’s Porte St. Denis, "Vivre sa Vie"’s Boulevard de Grenelle.  "Le Petit Soldat" leaves Paris entirely: we’re in Geneva, and for a while in Zürich.  We remember that Godard is, by heritage, Swiss; that he spent his formative years in Nyon, just east of Geneva—  And that he’s for the first time filming on something like native soil. 

The Swiss cityscapes bring something out in him.  Less a sense of nostalgia than a sense of retrospection.  Things have happened.  And now, in this placid and neutral land , the consequences are coming home.  Did I say that this was a film about terrorism?  

Indeed: this meditative, backward-looking Swiss film is tough and fully present.  It’s haunting.  It’s beautiful, it’s annoying.  Did I say this was a film by Jean-Luc Godard?

It’s the time of the war in Algeria.  Subor plays a right-wing terrorist, or, perhaps, a former right-wing terrorist, or perhaps a double agent.  Anna Karina plays Veronica Dreyer, his left-wing counterpart.  There are conversations.  Perhaps: conversions.  And of course, violence.   There is a scene of torture and waterboarding in "Le Petit Soldat" far more matter-of-fact – and for that reason more harrowing – than the one in "ZD30."  The grainy, black-and-white, verité sense of a man unable to breathe.  In real time.  Twenty-four frames a second.

Godard loves filming words; more, he loves filming letters.  The first letters in this film are BANK OF GENEVA, and then, in a newspaper kiosk advert: MORE TERRORIST ATTACKS.  Godard loves two guys and a gal in a car (see, for instance, "Band of Outsiders") and that’s here, too.  And of course the long twilight and night glides across the cityscape, neon signage blaring, shot so that their meaning is lost and their lettrist beauty comes to the fore. 

This article is related to: Jean-Luc Godard, Reviews


E-Mail Updates