DIRECTED BY JEAN-LUC GODARD
Hail Mary, is a very different and unusual Jean-Luc Godard film.
Unlike the majority of his films, there is a story here, and it was almost like he was challenged to create a real film, Hollywood style, that would stand up. And it does. But in doing so, it is not really for what one would expect, but it's "cinema verite" style of shooting many of the sequences, all of them chock full of philosophical content and at times music that gets a very different listening in these days of the small pop song, and pieces of music that lack continuity and content.
Jean-Luc Godard has just about always been known for his films in that there really is no story to them, and in some cases, no script and in many other cases, what is very clear, as a complete ad-libbed moment on the camera that was kept, when most of that would be something done in a rehearsal and preparation for a shoot, and ends up as if it was a moment that the director felt was better than the script and fit better in his own design or continuity of the film, most of which, as it can be seen many times, have no linear story at all ... just some kind of loose end follow this or that, and it has the habit of not being in "order" from beginning to the middle to the end.
Marie, claims to be a virgin, when she is found to be pregnant, and even after going to a doctor to show so, the continuation of that scene is kinda ... dropped ... pretty much suggesting that there was nothing the doctor could tell us, that would help the situation at all. And Marie, while not exactly happy with her relationship with Joseph, she won't sleep with him, and he is accused of lying and then kinda forced to take some responsibility for the whole thing, and towards the end, it appears they are married, and one day the kid wants to go his own way and leaves, and Marie doesn't worry about it.
The film, then, closes, in a rather strange, and personal, with her making an effort to put on some lipstick, which takes her a long time to do so. It's as if, this is the first time that she is coming to grips with herself, and physical self, while having been for the whole duration of the story and the film, almost completely sexless and moody, and sometimes silly.
But in between, is her infatuation with literature and music ... both of which seem to drive an internal fantasy, which, of course, is not likely to happen, and she is going to eventually have to face, and her situation becomes the excellent point, when posted against the fantasy that many of the arts can create. She's in for a rude awakening.
During her pregnancy, she goes into some rather strong moments putting down the religious views and many other philosophical ideals, for not helping, or supporting her own pains and discomforts during the whole process. This, of course, got many a church upset and the film was banned in several places, however, it does not diminish the effectiveness of what Jean-Luc Godard does.
The film is told in vignettes, all of them with the same title (another thought can be added here ... life is the same regardless?), and even though the film has some nudity in it, the extremely nice thing about it, is that it does not feel invasive and it does not interfere with anything, and in fact sometimes it is so natural and a part of the story, that we do not think of anything else ... Marie is obviously having issues with the pregnancy, and she tries to tell us that, but the only think that anyone thinks about, that we see mostly, is that she is moody, and independent.
Some very interesting acting. Myrimen Roussel is really good as Marie, in a role that is not exactly easy, and in the hands of someone that has to think about it, would fall apart real quick, and Thierry Rode as her boyfriend, and later husband. But one can see that despite the child, their relationship is still not there, and won't be anytime soon. A scene later when they are married shows him demanding his coffee as he is late for work ... as an example, and then his lack of patience as the child won't get in the car to be taken to school, it seems. She allows the child to go ... where God will take him! A veritable and clear cut bit of faith ... and then the closing scene, where she is making herself look more "feminine" with lipstick. She had been totally opaque in her communications with anyone except her dad, with whom she shared literature and music, and now, finally, she is taking the next step and it starts with some ... color on her lips? For many of us, it is a very strange ending, but for a Godard film, it becomes suggestive that she is finally becoming a real woman, instead of a child and is past her experience.
There are some other bits and pieces in the film, that kinda make it look like it's just every day French life ... a professor goes out with a younger girl, only to leave her to go back to his family. This leaves the girl completely alone, and is a direct contrast to Marie in the end, who is about to go out and learn something new. In other bits and pieces, is a character named Gabriel (Angel, too!) and he is the one that specifies to Marie that she will get pregnant with child. I imagine, even though this is not as clear in the film, that this would be a nice subtext for Marie to not get involved with Joseph physically, since what she is feeling now is something else, and it did not come from him! A bit on the weird side, but one of those thoughts that will come and go ... just like a Jean-Luc Godard film.
There are other things that are very much a Godard trait, and the one that is mostly visible is the sound techniques used, when a train, a street, cars, you name it, always interfere with the content in front of us ... too much noise for us to hear the whole thing clearly. And while this is a true fact in large cities, we, the film audience, never really connect this, as Hollywood, has decreed that the sound is strictly about the people involved and the city behind it is incidental ... regardless of which film you choose ... ohh , excuse ... please leave Woody Allen out of this. He also plays around with the sound a lot, but in a very different sort of way ... it does not "interrupt" the dialogues but it does interfere with the continuation of the story. Jean-Luc often uses these as a way to move along into the next step, since this step has run its course ... and getting heavy handed via dialogue is not the way Jean-Luc does anything. His dialogue, like the stories and films ... is almost totally incidental, and sometimes not even worthy of being a part of the story, and in more than one occasion is there to send us to the left, when everything else goes to the right, making you and I sit here ... and wonder ... about film ... something that most American audiences, that are so addicted to "action" and to be told what to see, can not appreciate a fact of everyday life right in front of us ... nothing is like a movie ... absolutely nothing ... and yet, here we are, like Marie at the start totally fascinated by it ... only to become completely disillusioned by it all.
Still think Jean-Luc Godard is not a great film maker? One of the best and most interesting and he has never really failed to have fun with his films, and at the same time shake your boots ... in the easiest of manners, too! He doesn't even have to show nudity to make it sexy ... Marie, in many ways is not sexy, because she is closed off. And "sexy" does not come "alive" until the very end of the film.
A very nice film, however, due to content and some comments by Marie during her pregnancy, and its romantic notions at the start, it may completely drive many folks to dislike this film ... we're used to be told and shown the romanticism, and here ... it is the very thing that we love, but can not show, specially in film!
Written and Directed:
Cinematography: Jacques Firmann and Jean-Bernard Menoud
Music: Bach and Dvorak
With: Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode, Philippe Lacoste, Manon Anderson, Juliette Binoche
SUPER FEATURES: Godard film at its best for most of us.
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