"Le Redoutable" offers a playful yet incisive glimpse into the life of Jean-Luc Godard, one of the most influential figures in the history of cinema. Set during the political upheaval of the late 1960s, the film portrays Godard at a crossroads both in his personal life and his filmmaking career. Louis Garrel's portrayal of Godard is remarkably nuanced, capturing the director's quirks, charisma, and ideological contradictions.
At its core, the film is a romantic drama focusing on Godard's relationship with his then-wife, Anne Wiazemsky, portrayed by Stacy Martin. Her performance provides a strong counterpoint to Garrel's Godard, showing Anne as both muse and independent woman grappling with her own identity in the shadow of her famous spouse. Their love story unfolds against the backdrop of Godard's radicalization and the broader social upheavals in France, and the movie cleverly uses their relationship as a lens through which to explore Godard's changing cinematic and political philosophies.
Director Michel Hazanavicius, best known for his Academy Award-winning film "The Artist," takes a respectful but irreverent approach to the subject matter. The film is filled with stylistic nods to French New Wave cinema, from jump cuts to direct address, making it feel like an affectionate pastiche. However, Hazanavicius doesn't shy away from critiquing Godard, depicting him as a flawed, sometimes insufferable figure.
"Le Redoutable" benefits from its strong production values, including colorful cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman that captures the spirit of the 1960s. The script is sharp and witty, filled with intellectual and cinematic references that cinephiles will appreciate, but it also makes room for broader comedy, providing a balanced, accessible experience for audiences unfamiliar with Godard or French New Wave cinema.
However, the film may not sit well with everyone, especially die-hard Godard fans who might view it as overly critical or reductive. It also requires some familiarity with the socio-political context of late 1960s France, and a rudimentary understanding of Godard’s work to fully appreciate its nuanced layers.
In summary, "Le Redoutable" is a spirited biopic that both celebrates and questions the legacy of Jean-Luc Godard. With strong performances and an engaging style, it's an intriguing exploration of an enigmatic figure, offering both a history lesson and a human drama filled with humor, love, and ideological struggle.