Jean-Luc Godard / 2014, Cannes, Bangkok, BFI London, Busan, Cameraimage, CPH:PIX, Dublin, FNC - Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Ghent, Göteborg, Locarno, Mumbai, Munich, New York Film Festival, NYT Critics' Pick, Philadelphia, Sitges, Taipei, Tallinn Black Nights, Toronto, Valdivia, Vancouver, Vienna / 69'
A small town on the shores of Lake Geneva. A ferry comes and goes; a young couple sets up a bookstand. A professor sits on a nearby bench reading a book by Solzhenitsyn, then a catalog of Nicolas de Staël paintings. In the midst of an affair, Gédéon and Josette argue about equality, love, and philosophy. Gédéon believes the two greatest inventions are zero and infinity; Josette counters sex and death. Meanwhile a dog wanders the countryside, invoking an unencumbered perspective.
Formed of parallel viewpoints and an elaborate web of references to art, literature, and history, Goodbye to Language establishes a dialectical relationship between narrative and cinematography in which the deconstruction of one is made manifest through the fracture of the other—culminating in a canine view of the world. Jean-Luc Godard's experimental foray into 3D technology premiered at Busan, Cameraimage, Göteborg, Locarno, Tallinn, Toronto, Vienna and Cannes, where it won the Jury Prize.
"[A] characteristically vigorous, playful, mordant commentary on everything from the state of movies to the state of the world from French cinema's oldest living enfant terrible… Godard has only made another in his long series of reinventions and renewals"
"Mr. Godard has a habit of blending gravity with whimsy. His latest film, a 70-minute 3-D visual essay called Goodbye to Language (Adieu au Langage), exhibits the formal and philosophical mischief that has been his late-career calling card. It is baffling and beautiful, a flurry of musical and literary snippets arrayed in counterpoint to a series of brilliantly colored and hauntingly evocative pictures—of flowers, boats, streets, naked bodies and Mr. Godard's own dog, a mixed-breed scene-stealer identified in the credits as Roxy Miéville"
"Watching Jean-Luc Godard's recent work can be a source of joy, but also of terror—especially if you're trying to write about it. Your eyes are bombarded with violent, abrupt changes of texture, color, and form, sometimes obliged to take in several superimposed images and captions at once—and now, in Goodbye to Language, with the additional stimulus, or demand, of a very idiosyncratic use of 3-D. Your ears, meanwhile, try to apprehend snatches of text, often spoken off screen, fragments of music that start and stop with equal suddenness, and a dizzying array of sound effects—barking dogs, gunshots, a particular intense burst of cawing crows that, in this new film, had me putting my hands to my ears. The sheer assaultive power of Goodbye to Language makes it Godard's most vibrant and exciting film for some time and, you might say, his most terroristic: he's never been so true to André Breton’s dictum, 'Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.'"
"Often, Godard's camera lens seems to me like the lens of a futuristically powerful telescope. He sees everything from a very great distance and vast detachment, on a planet of his own, and his communications are garbled and frazzled from being transmitted intergalactic distances. Farewell To Language is chaotic and mad, with longueurs. But it has its own baffling integrity and an arresting, impassioned pessimism"
"But to give too much weight to words in a film that is, after all, called Goodbye to Language is perhaps not the best tactic to take. The second time I saw the movie in a cinema, the process of trying to follow the film was no longer quite so harrowing, and its sheer loveliness became evident to me in a way it hadn't been before. It is fairly strewn with flowers, fresh-cut and wilted and growing wild, saturated color levels rendering them as solid de Staël-esque impastos of red, a red that recurs in Marie Ruchat's curtain of curly hair and the old 'It's not blood, it's red' blood. It is a bouquet of textures, attributable to a variety of postproduction filters and technologies—Godard lists his cameras, many of them less-than-state-of-the-art consumer jobs, in the closing credits, right alongside the composers and writers from whose work he has created the decoupage of the film's sonic element"
"It's a commonplace to talk about a great director's vision, but Godard is, above all, a director whose greatness is also a matter of touch—of physical touch—and Goodbye to Language, is his most tactile film to date… Godard uses 3-D to out-Welles Welles, in the deep-focus category, and to out-Bazin Bazin, in the overwhelming complexity of visual experience and material reality that he can fill his seemingly vast frames with. Here he revisits the passions, the controversies, and the ideas of his youth, in a movie that is filled with his own self-referential and retrospective touches"
"What makes the formal and intellectual convulsions of Goodbye to Language so uniquely disarming is the sheer fun that Godard appears to be having at any given moment, and the pleasure proves infectious. In the film's most audacious formal gambit, the director and his cinematographer, Fabrice Aragno, use a swiveling camera pan to pull the image into two overlapping planes, turning right eye and left eye against each other. It's a description that does little justice to the actual effect onscreen; suffice to say that it's about as literal a metaphor for expanding the possibilities of the motion-picture image as you could imagine. Eyestrain never felt so ecstatic"