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Studio: Koch Lorber Films
Year: 1964
Cast: Macha Meril, Philippe Leroy, Bernard Noel
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Release Date: June 2, 2009, 7:55 am
Rating: Not Rated for Nudity
Run Time: 01h:34:m:01s

"Fragments of a film shot in 1964óin black and white." - Opening 'Disclaimer'

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Long out of print, Koch Lorber brings one of Godard's lost films to American audiences with a barebones, but solid, release.

Movie Grade: A-

DVD Grade: B

At the risk of completely obliterating my credibility to any and all readers, Iíll admit it: Iíd never seen a Jean-Luc Godard film before sitting down late in the weekend to watch this. Thereís no reason why I never sought the directorís work other than itís expansive and intimidating. You can look at his resume for hours and have no idea where to begin. Thankfully, I have an editor who isnít afraid to make these tough decisions for me so, unsure of what to expect, I took Une Femme MariÈe for a spin, thinking I was simply getting a story about the trials and tribulations of a bored housewife.

I shouldíve known better.

Charlotte is a beautiful middle-class woman married to a successful pilot while having an affair with a handsome young actor. Sheís ready to abandon her husband in favor of the passionate young man until a surprise pregnancy obscures the seemingly easy decision. Now sheís forced to consider both men carefully, but itís not a conclusion that comes easily.

Godard isnít interested in the convoluted trappings of a womanís choice, nor does he feel any obligation to paint his characters in a positive light. For all intents, Charlotte is our protagonist, but only in the most traditional sense. Thereís nothing particularly likable about her (even less so about her lovers) and her depth is relegated to whatever advertisement or periodical sheís last noted. In fact, this is less a story about a cheating woman and more a commentary on the shallow nature of consumer culture (this was a problem even in the early 1960s?) told through the eyes of a fickle housewife.

Charlotte doesnít seem to have the faintest idea of what sheís looking for. Her thoughts are taken directly from media adverts, many of which are of a contradicting nature. Whatís worse is that sheís seen as less of a person and more of an object in the eyes of her men. Her husband treats her like an extension of his property while her lover canít be bothered unless itís to objectify her naked body. Godard shoots their scenes in a series of lingering close-ups that exploit Charlotte, emphasizing that sheís as much of an object no matter which man she chooses.

Une Femme MariÈe surprises with its scathing indictment of media power. Maybe my unfamiliarity with the director is the reason why, but I found myself entranced and appreciative of its ultimate purpose. Itís not a flattering examination of societal femininity, nor does it aim to be. Instead it holds a mirror up to a society more concerned with status and instant gratification than love and affection. My, how things have changed since then.

Koch Lorber presents Une Femme MariÈe in a nice looking transfer offering strong blacks to contrast with the stark whites. This being a black and while film, the contrast is solid if not amazing, with satisfying image quality that occasionally falters with a soft look. Still, I was very pleased with Koch Lorberís presentation.

Not much to say here. Dialogue is clear, never overshadowed or drowned out by the music or sound. Itís a mono track, a perfectly adequate one.


Matt Serafini June 2, 2009, 7:55 am