Film

Jean-Luc Godard and the 3D Dog: An Actress' Tale

Starring in a film directed by Jean-Luc Godard is an intimidating prospect (especially when it's in 3D), but not only did Héloise Godet rise to the challenge, she's starting to get rave reviews of her own.


Goodbye to Language 3D

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Cast: Héloise Godet, Kamel Abdeli, Richard Chevallier
MPAA Rating: NR
Studio: Canal+
Year: 2014
US Release Date: 2014-10-29

At age 83, Jean-Luc Godard has gone and reinvented film language once more in the ironically titled Goodbye to Language, a philosophical essay about life, love, art and politics done in the way only he can.

Fractured editing and seemingly random sound bites give path to the central love story between Josette (Héloise Godet) and Gédéon (Kamel Abdeli), a couple who fight, make love, then fight again, befriend a dog, have some more sex, then fight again. If Godard is trying to represent the monotonous cyclical nature of life we'll never know, as this is just as cryptic as any movie he's ever made before. Oh and did we mention it's in 3D?

However in the shape of the breathtaking Godet, we see Godard fixating on the kind of doe-eyed, brunette that once populated all of his notable works. If there is something we know for sure about Godard is that there is nothing accidental about his films and that whatever he saw in Godet when he first saw her picture in a website, has now become part of one of the greatest films of 2014. We spoke to Godard's new muse when she was in town for the New York Film Festival. All dressed in gorgeous Dior, she talked joyously about her experience during the shoot, some of her favorite actresses and why she thinks Godard is a romantic.

* * *

I find it funny that even if Jean-Luc often stays away from mass media and telecommunications, he found you through the internet ...

Absolutely, he is into mass communications though, he's not into networking on Twitter or Facebook, or anything, but he still has an iPhone, an iPad, an iMac ... he's very much into computers and geeky things. The fact that he did a 3D movie shows that he's into technology. He doesn't want to be left out, he wants to be into what's happening.

Some scenes in the film he shot with phones, right?

Right! And on GoPros, he had lots of way of filming.

Going back to when you first realized you wanted to become an actress. Did you ever think that one day you'd get a call from Godard?

I would have never expected that. When my agent told me that I was going to meet Godard's assistant and maybe be in his movie, I thought it was an April Fool's joke, I didn't believe him. And then it also took ages before we finally did the movie, I was waiting and waiting and they kept pushing it away and I didn't know if it would ever happen, especially after someone told me Godard wasn't feeling well, and then I also heard that he wanted to work with a Swiss actress and I was no longer to be in the project, and then he wanted to meet me again ... so if I wanted to be in the project I had to remain available all the time. So I kept saying no to theater projects, which was really hard…

His films aren't particularly known as being showcases for actors, so were you at all worried that he'd make you do something insane onscreen

I know. I was ready for everything, especially because growing up in France, he is so famous, that he's part of the landscape of cinema, his movies are always on TV, his '90s movies are less available, and I never got to see them until before making this film. So then when I met his assistant and we were talking he just asked me "Would you mind being naked?" because there's a lot of "naked, back to the roots" going ons in this movie. I said "It's Jean-Luc Godard, so that's OK," I trust him, I trust his work and I know I'm not going to be in danger. And in fact I felt very protected by him, I knew it would be a non-actor focused, non-narrative movie, because I saw the script and it was an amount of mixed subjects, mostly images from social, historical and political stills. I love his recent movies too, so I thought "if I'm just saying lines in a Godard movie about love or the situation of animals in the world, that would be OK," but then there was more than that ...

And also, Godard isn't for everyone ...

I know!

I know all his work and I honestly have to say that this is only his second film I've really loved ...

Yeah? What was the first one?

Contempt, which incidentally has a lot of common with Goodbye to Language ...

Oh yeah! I can see that. Because both of them talk about love a lot, which isn't something he does in all his movies, except in the early ones. He's a really romantic person, you can see it in his movies, in his relationship with Anna Karina, that's why he's melancholic, because melancholy is linked to romance. Also, about the comparison, it makes sense because there is a lot of contempt in the relationship in the film too.

Did you go and specifically study all of Godard's leading ladies to prepare for your role?

I watched all the movies with Anna Karina thinking that he was madly in love with her, so she must've had something and you don't have to be Godard to fall in love with her either. In her early movies she's fantastic, so she's really an inspiration. I also was inspired by many other great French actresses like Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Devos, Fanny Ardant ... so many actresses with such charismatic presences which are great to watch as an audience but also as an actress, because they seem like goddesses. For example Huppert is as small as me, about 5'2 I think, and she's so big on-screen! A monster goddess onstage and on-screen!

Were you at all intimidated by the idea that you'd become one of these Godardian goddesses too?

No, I wasn't thinking about it. I just saw it as the most amazing experience I'd ever had professionally. I knew I was really lucky and I know in a way I'm entering the history of cinema because this is Godard, but again, this is his movie, it's not about actors. There's Roxy the dog, a few actors and I'm mostly here to represent the movie, but he should be talking instead of me and everybody expects him to enlighten people about his movies, but he won't do it, because he's already working on his next project.

What kind of direction do you get from him?

I met Kamel just once to go through the whole text, because we thought we needed to know it by heart, but all we really need to do on the set was be available and not prepare too much. Everything I wanted to propose on the set he would erase it, he would destroy it, because he wanted me to be present, in the here, to lower my voice and be as normal as I could, if I tried to give some psychological background to my character he would destroy it. And we knew about it already, he told us from the beginning to just know our text.

Was this frustrating? How do you prepare for most of your projects?

I saw his recent movies and I knew I shouldn't expect to construct anything, because he's all about deconstructing everything, so I could bring my own continuity and ask him about why I wasn't wearing a jacket I'd been wearing in the previous scene, he'd say "OK, if you want some continuity you have to work with someone else."

Movies are a big part of his movies, and in this one we see clips from many classic films like The Snows of Kilimanjaro, did he ask you to go see these movies in advance?

No, I discovered them until we were on set, I'd ask him what movie he'd play in the background and he told us, but we had no idea. There was no preparation, we arrived, we went through our lines and he'd become an orchestra conductor and direct based on the music that was playing in the background, because he knew exactly what would go where. It felt really magical on set because it felt like we were doing a musical. Most of the time I was acting and thinking at the same time "How fucking lucky I am, I'm enjoying what I'm doing! I love what he's doing, we are doing something special!" [laughs]

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image