Godard's first feature has been widely hailed as one of the most influential motion pictures ever made. On the run after killing a cop, a small-time crook (Belmondo) hides out in Paris with an American girl (Seberg). After she betrays him, he chooses to face his fate with an absurd stoicism modelled on his hero, Humphrey Bogart. BREATHLESS is the arguable cornerstone of the French New Wave, exhibiting the trademark documentary shooting style, natural sound design, and thematic interest in the detritus of American popular culture. (Rereleased theatrically in April, 2000.)
Former "Cahiers du Cinéma" critic Jean-Luc Godard threw everything he had learned from years of movie watching into his debut feature--creating an enormously influential film and a seminal study of existential longing and betrayal. Within the first few minutes, Michel (Belmondo), a foul-mouthed Parisian who idolizes Humphrey Bogart, shoots a police officer and immediately becomes a fugitive on the run. He visits an ex-girlfriend and while casually charming her, he steals her money. He then gallivants through the marvelous streets of 1940s Paris, pursuing Patricia (Seberg), a blond pixie-like American selling the New York Herald Tribune on the Champs-Elysees. Michel is childlike as he pouts and whines in his fruitless attempts to seduce Patricia, then turns cold as ice as he curses her out, racing off to steal a car or meet up with some other thugs. Meanwhile, Patricia seems to seduce everybody with her youth and naivety. She is just 20-years-old, possibly pregnant, and despite the few scattered assignments she does for the paper, she is dreamy and directionless. Even so, she does not refuse Michel, though she won't commit to him. As they follow each other in and out of cafes and boutiques, sailing past the Eiffel Tower and down the grand boulevards in gorgeous stolen cars, we await what is sure to be a tragic ending.
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