Before We Vanish by Paul Attard Film

Redoubtable | Michel Hazanavicius

April 20, 2018

Michel Hazanavicius has somehow made a relatively successful career out of feebly imitating established genre tropes or broadly recreating old forms of filmmaking, with The Artist being his crowning achievement: a lazy homage to the silent era laced with as many eye-rollingly obvious references as possible. With Redoubtable, Hazanavicius now takes on the French New Wave—or more specifically, its poster boy, Jean Luc-Godard. A romantic comedy that abruptly switches gears into melodrama, Redoubtable uses the real-life marriage between Godard and actress Anne Wiazemsky as its plot, while Hazanavicius uses a shitty approximation of Godardian technique as an attempted send-up of its targeted auteur. Large-font text appears on screen, fourth walls break, and occasional ironic sound-cues are employed, all for the sake of bald-faced mockery.

Redoubtable is the cinematic equivalent of making fun of somebody by saying their words while speaking in a funny voice. There’s some semblance of an ambition here to build-up legitimacy surrounding Wiazemsky’s criticism of her former husband (Hazanavicius based this film on her autobiography), but it isn’t clear how this brand of crass whimsy really accomplishes that. This isn’t a film that’s ever interested in taking sides, or clarifying history; like Hazanavicius’s others, it’s about an opportunity to riff on someone else’s work for laughs, blowing raspberries all the while. As one supposed intellectual says in Redoubtable: “God invented shit!” That’s certainly the case here.

Published as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2017 | Dispatch 3.