The Charms of a Woman: A Discussion on A Woman is a Woman

Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Brialy in A Woman is a Woman, directed by Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard’s A Woman is a Woman is a playful film illustrating the complexities of a relationship between a stripper and her lover. Angela had doubts on her love for Emile and believed that having his baby will give her an answer. Emile refused to give her what she wants, and so began their tragic love affair. Right off the bat, the storyline captures my attention because here, we have a woman who actually wants a baby at a time when having a baby and putting the needs of their husband first is imposed on women. As the film progresses, the vibrant colors, unique editing, and catchy score lures us even more. However, this is not to say the film was not difficult to understand.

Most of the time, events just happen. There are intermittent flashes that makes the audience wonder whether the scenes are connected to the storyline. A seemingly straightforward plot becomes more confusing, and you may find yourself confused with the film. We are quite unsure what will happen next, which I believe made the film even more thrilling to watch. There is no clear structure as compared to Hollywood films, and yet we remain glued to the screen because we are encouraged to uncover the mysteries. The use of a musical style heightens our experience by challenging us to find meaning or satisfaction amidst the chaos, but we find none because Godard creates displeasure instead. He irritates the audience by withholding information and refusing to provide clarity. Unlike Hollywood films that focus on narrating a stories that can entertain, A Woman is a Woman invites us to focus on the creativity of the visuals and how it complements the theme.

Considering the period when the film was released, I was surprised how Angela got what she wanted in the end. Perhaps, A Woman is a Woman is hinting that the changing role of women in society is gradually starting. It seems like Godard is exploring the topic of women’s sexuality, which was evident through Angela’s job as a stripper. Her dances were more of an expression of herself, rather than an avenue for the satisfaction of men. Contrary to our perception of strippers, Angela seems much more confident and able to show her femininity because of her job. She was not afraid to be creative and to defend herself, which can be seen when the couple were conversing through book titles. She argued that emotions are not a woman’s weakness when she said, “There’s nothing more beautiful that a woman in tears.” By touching on social issues such as women’s independence, A Woman is a Woman rejects Hollywood films that choose to focus on showing the good parts of life for entertainment. However, the Godard does not tell us what we should think or how we should feel about these issues; rather, he simply desires to shed light on them whilst creating an artistic film. Ultimately, Godard succeeds in breaking barriers in European Cinema not just through his unconventional filmmaking techniques, but also by discussing issues that society hides from.

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