Starring: Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Running Time: 85 mins
Made In U.S.A is a French film about a writer who travels to the town of Atlantic-Cité to learn that her lover, Richard, is dead. From then on, she becomes embroiled in a deep investigation that leads her into a series of dangerous encounters with gangsters, death and the meaning of life.
Godard is always one to challenge the norms of filmmaking, and Made In U.S.A is no different. Apart from the fact that it may be one of his most chaotic and incomprehensible films of all. Whilst it may seem simple on the outside, Godard does a brilliantly job at throwing gibberish at you for 85 minutes, and although it’s a visually gorgeous film from start to finish, it’s a rather frustrating watch when it comes to following the story.
However, let’s start with the one thing that we can always be assured of with a Godard film, the visuals. As always, Made In U.S.A is filled to the brim with Godard’s trademark pop colours that dazzle you at every second. From Anna Karina’s vibrant outfits to the intensely colourful settings in and around Atlantic-Cité, this may even be Godard’s most visually colourful film of all, but it’s an absolute delight to look at from start to finish.
Another plus from this film is the humour. Although it’s by no means a laugh-a-minute comedy, this film is full of Godard’s classically weird comedy, getting laughs out of you simply by having a character look at the camera, make a seemingly innocuous remark or something else even more bizarre. Amidst all the chaos and strangeness of this totally unorthodox film, the humour still stands strong throughout.
Now, when it comes to being unorthodox, I think this film may be the one that takes the cake in Godard’s filmography. So many of his other films are full of weird-out moments, whether it be from strange jump-cutting, repeating scenes, weird time warps, fourth wall breaks and simply unintelligible ideas, but Made In U.S.A manages to stuff them all into one film in an absolute mess of a movie.
The strange thing is, you can sort of tell that that’s exactly what the point of this film is. An expert at making a seemingly simple story almost unintelligible, Godard manages to take Made In U.S.A from being a simple mystery to something that’s pretty much impossible to follow.
Brief moments of actual plot progression and investigation are regularly interrupted by lengthy speeches of socialist propaganda from a tape recorder, or the habitual discussion of all of life’s meanings in a café somewhere, all of which makes this film a consistently bewildering and bizarre prospect.#
But as mad and as messy as everything in this film is, it seems to work. I didn’t particularly enjoy following the story, and had a hard time really focusing on what was going on, but there’s method in the madness and gibberish here, slamming together genres and time periods from all across cinema to make something very, very original, and surprisingly captivating at times.
Overall, I have to say that I rather enjoyed Made In U.S.A. It’s not a good film, and its insanely messy story doesn’t do it any favours when making it an engaging watch, but thanks to its beautiful visuals, good humour and bewildering quirks, it’s an original film that you’ll want to try and unlock, even if it’s probably impossible, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.0.