Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Running Time: 90 mins
Breathless (À bout de souffle) is a French film about a young car thief, who, while on the run from the Parisian police after murdering an officer, tries to persuade a young woman to run away to Rome with him.
This is a surprisingly fun and wacky film. On the face of things, it’s a classic crime/romance story, effectively a small film-noir, but the main characters and tone of the film play along to what you see is a very normal trend in modern French cinema, meaning this is in fact quite a pioneering film.
Not only is it pioneering in terms of its tone, but also in terms of how it was shot. Amidst the breakout movement of French cinema after films like The 400 Blows, it is quite significant, but in comparison to films such as that, this looks a whole lot more modern.
I honestly believe that if this were released today, and de-black-and-whited, people who aren’t so interested in cinema of the past would really receive this warmly, because it looks so modern, and it’s got a really good story.
The story follows this young car thief who is effectively on the run from the police, which makes this very exciting and unpredictable, as it turns out to be a very close chase between the two parties, adding a more thrilling aspect to the latter stages of the story.
Meanwhile, his ambition is to get to Rome, however throughout the course of the film, it appears as if he’s never going to leave Paris. There are scenes of him lazing around wondering what to do, and it seems just stupid that he can’t get to Rome, which adds an element of farce to the whole thing.
However, I think that the characters are the most important part of this story. The car thief, Michel, and his relationship with the young American woman, Patricia, is particularly interesting. In the situation he’s in, you’d think that escaping the police would be the most important thing for Michel, but the strength of his love for Patricia, is all too powerful to let him escape without her.
So there is a degree of romance in the story, and it is an interesting one. While it’s particularly significant for the outcome of the story, the fact that it’s so stuck and awkward at points makes it both funny and unpredictable, bringing together all of the main genres of this film.
Overall, this gets a 7.8, because it was wacky, exciting, interestingly romantic and mysterious, which made for a thoroughly enjoyable watch.