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VIVRE SA VIE

Director: JEAN-LUC GODARD

FRANCE • 1962 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 85 MIN


If you want an instance of the singular magic worked by a director and actress in perfect synch, look no further than Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina’s third collaboration, Vivre sa vie. Nominally the story of a would-be actress who drifts into prostitution, its real subject is Karina’s magnetic screen presence, which Godard explores in a series of twelve tableaux. She works in a record shop, loses the key to her flat, goes to see Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, and ends up on the streets. Godard had married his leading lady the year before and their best work together heaves with an emotional register that’s absent from his other films. There’s a significantly personal note when she and a lover read Poe’s The Oval Portrait, since it is Godard himself we hear narrating the tale of an artist who spends so long perfecting a picture of his spouse that she expires. This is the film that Susan Sontag called ‘one of the most extraordinary, beautiful and original works of art that I know of.’

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