Thursday, August 23, 2012
Band of Outsiders. A-
Band of Outsiders is considered Godard's most accessible film, and of the ones I've seen, it's also my favorite. The story itself is molded in the tradition of American crime capers, with two male students befriending a young woman and convincing her to assist in robbing her relatives' house. Yet, as one should expect from Godard, he does not seem so much interested in the crime as he does in the attitudes of the people committing it. They seem to see the world as their playhouse, a place in which they can do whatever they please because the idealized way in which they view it keeps the very notion of law something foreign to them. We see this in the way the frolic around the city, drive too fast, and most famously when they break out in synchronized dance at a diner (which is the inspiration for the dance scene between John Travolta and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction). Band of Outsiders doesn't deal with big questions and rarely philosophizes about its characters' actions. The lack of profundity makes the film seem almost mundane, until you realize that this is Godard's intent, and then suddenly it does become something profound. I felt, much more than in Breathless, his attempt to capture a state of mind that's romantic about the past yet intellectually quite mundane. But perhaps the greatest joy of this, or any early Godard film, is his visual style, which is always pleasing to the eye while also being innovative (Godard said that he wanted to go against both narrative and filmmaking trends, which meant a handheld tracking shot was a good idea merely because it defied tradition. In a sense his style is rebellious the same way his characters are). The final fifteen minutes or so didn't do much for me, as Godard seems almost uncertain how he wants to end the movie. Put something like the climax from Shoot the Piano Player in this and it would be just about perfect.