(Deux de la Vague)
Film Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Documentary Deconstructs the Turbulent Friendship of Godard and Truffaut
Jean-Luc Godard (born in 1930) and Francois Truffaut (1932-1984) were at the forefront of the group of emerging film directors who founded the New Wave Movement in Paris back in the Fifties. Both of these iconoclasts started out as critics in the wake of WWII when French cinema had become so stale, that Truffaut roundly lambasted it in print as “artificial and uptight.” And after subsequently being banned from Cannes for indicting the annual festival as academic and corrupt, the brash young upstart decided to try his hand at making movies himself.
Since Godard felt the same way about the state of his country’s film industry, he and Truffaut easily bonded and became the best of friends, even backing and writing for each other’s early productions. During that renowned renaissance period, the fact that they came from very different backgrounds was never an issue.
Francois, who had been born out of wedlock, never knew his Jewish biological father. Instead, he was raised Catholic by his maternal grandmother in rather humble surroundings, and ended up not only dropping out of high school but frequently in trouble with the law, including doing a stint in prison as an army deserter.
By contrast, Jean-Luc hailed from a wealthy, Protestant family. Still, he and Francois found a sort of similar salvation in cinema despite neither having any experience beyond having watched thousands of movies. These so-called “Young Turks” proceeded to subvert the dominant paradigm with such flicks as “The 400 Blows” (Truffaut) and “Breathless” (Godard).
However, their paths began to divert in 1968 when Truffaut remained indifferent to the student and civil rights uprisings at the same time that Godard would embrace the rise of radical politics. The pair finally parted ways for good following a series of heated exchanges in which Jean-Luc called Francois “bourgeois” and the latter responded by referring to his ex-pal as a “propagandist.”
This tempestuous relationship plus a most informative chronicling of their substantial cinematic contributions are the subject of Two in the Wave, a brilliant, bifurcated bio-pic directed by Emmanuel Laurent. The discussion here is amply augmented by illustrative snippets from some of their classic pictures, and by rare footage of these icons in the company of legendary colleagues like Hitchcock and Chabrol.
A fascinating and informative, must-see documentary for any serious cinephile
Excellent (4 stars)
In French with subtitles.
Running time: 93 Minutes
Distributor: Lorber Films
Sunday, May 23, 2010
(Deux de la Vague)