Starring: Anna Karina, Sami Frey, Claude Brasseur
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Running Time: 97 mins
Band Of Outsiders (Bande à part) is a French film about two men who join together with a young woman and convince her to work with them on a robbery, all the while battling with one another for her affections.
As different and weird as all of Godard’s films are, Band Of Outsiders stands out as a bit of an outsider itself. It’s not as experimental as most of his films, and doesn’t quite have the same slick style, but what it does have is a pleasant and fun atmosphere that makes for a pretty enjoyable watch throughout.
Now, that’s not to say that the film is completely simple and linear, because it’s still full of classic Godard tropes. Its plot is incredibly loose over the first hour, and there are loads of random and seemingly unconnected sequences in which we often see our main characters dancing off in their trio on a quick and freeing adventure from the main events of the film.
As far as Godard’s visual style goes, Band Of Outsiders isn’t quite the feast for the eyes that the likes of Pierrot Le Fou and Breathless are. It’s not a particularly crisp film, with less stark and powerful black-and-white imagery, and although it does bring across some of the story’s darker points well, I wasn’t quite so enchanted with the film’s visuals as I was looking to be, which was a disappointment.
Despite that, the performances here are more cause for praise. Anna Karina is as stylish and entertaining as ever in the lead role, albeit without the opportunity to play a truly fascinating character. Alongside her are Sami Frey and Claude Brasseur, both of whom bring some of the film’s funniest moments to light brilliantly, and whose chemistry makes their characters’ somewhat petty battle over Karina good fun to watch.
I didn’t think the directing and performances were exactly stellar, but they go a long way to making the film a light and enjoyable watch. The story is the other part of the film that helps to achieve that, and although it’s not always on point, there are some brilliantly entertaining moments throughout.
Now, although the synopsis for the film centres on the prospect of pulling off a robbery, the first hour of the film isn’t quite so focused on that. There’s a bit of build-up, but the majority of the first two acts is about the awkward friendship between the leading trio, as well as them as individuals, and a little about the background to the upcoming crime.
I didn’t find the first hour particularly enthralling, although its light-hearted vibes were nice enough to keep me entertained. The final act, however, is a real step-up, as we veer towards a slightly more conventional plot centring on the robbery. It sometimes feels similar to the likes of Bonnie And Clyde, what with the entertaining depiction of young crooks staging outlandish crimes, and it makes for a strong end to the film.
On the whole, I thought Band Of Outsiders was a nice little film. It’s by no means my favourite from Godard, and I think it’s missing a little style and panache, but its light-hearted atmosphere, entertaining story and fun performances all go a long way to making an enjoyable 97 minutes, which is why I’m giving it a 7.4.