My feature review of the DVD release of Jean-Luc Godard’s Une Femme Mariee is now running on Turner Classic Movies online.
Subtitled “Fragments of a film shot in 1964,” Une Femme Mariee, Jean-Luc Godard’s modern portrait of love and sex in the media-saturated sixties, is a collage of a life of a young wife having an affair. It would seem a perfect role for Godard’s wife and muse, Anna Karina, who had been the star of four earlier films, including Vivre sa vie and Band a parte, but they had recently separated after she had an affair with the co-star of another film. In her place he cast Macha Méril as Charlotte, the married woman of the title, and it’s no coincidence the brunette beauty resembles Karina, down to her stylish bangs. Charlotee, like Karina, she is a beautiful young woman married to an older man and having an affair with a actor. Godard had come up with the script idea earlier but it turned partially autobiographical by the time he started scripting, becoming his portrait of a world where, in the words of one critic, “Karina could leave him.”
While Godard continues to explore cinema language, trying to communicate life in a media saturated consumerist society, Une Femme Marie is also an intimate portrait of young woman so alienated from her life that she does not seem to realize how unhappy she is. Charlotte is a product of her environment, giving in to her consumerist impulses driven by the cacophony of advertising around her and practically a commodity herself (the ideal of woman as seen in the ads) desired by her husband and her lover. She’s in a marriage disintegrating out of a lack of communication and an affair from which she is increasingly detached. Godard has a sympathy for her as a victim of her culture, and traces her path to self-awareness and seriousness as she ponders her pregnancy and weighs her affair against her marriage. It is also Godard’s most visually handsome film to date, shot in creamy cool black and white by longtime cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who helps Godard create a sense of emotional distance in even the most intimate scenes of lovemaking and pillow talk.
Read the complete review at TCM here.