Breathless (1960)

116.

★★★★★

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard
Written by: François Truffaut (story), Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg and Daniel Boulanger

The French New Wave really got rolling with this 1960 gem, Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard’s surprising, exciting, and free-spirited leap into the film scene. The impact of this movie on cinematic style and technique cannot be understated.  Its homage to American cinema, experimental style, and rough presentation made Breathless memorable in its day, and unforgettable now.

Bonnie and Clyde before Bonnie and Clyde

Michel (Belmondo) is like a caricature out of an American crime movie. With a cigarette dangling out of his mouth, dark glasses, and a fedora perched on his head, Michel goes through the signature gestures and cool moves of a French Bogart. Only, Michel is a car thief who is being chased by the police over the rash murder of a highway policeman. Seeking refuge in the arms of Patricia (Seberg) – a past lover from New York – Michel’s tough guy act slowly peels away under the enigmatic presence of this mysterious and coolly detached woman.

Immersed in the talent of  filmmakers, cinematographers, and writers of the French New Wave, Breathless is a breath of fresh air in cinematic spontaneity and charm with Godard’s famous jump cuts slicing up scenes with no sense of order or logic, and the performances of Belmondo and Seberg breathing life into a story that could never be attached to the word, “cliche”.

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