a woman is a woman

To be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about films in general. I enjoy watching movies, but only the typical American Hollywood type of films that people love to talk about. When I’m asked about a certain movie that I watched, I usually just say “I cried”, or “I fell asleep”, or “The soundtrack was amazing”, or “I’m crushing on that character.” Never have I actually attempted to understand the movie beyond its plot nor its cast selection. So when our professor said we would be watching non-conventional European films, I got quite worried and nervous. It didn’t help that the first movie we would be watching in class was a 1961 film by a director I have never heard of nor actors I have never seen on screen. So to be completely frank, watching this old French film with an odd take on a romantic comedy musical (honestly, how was that a musical?) for the first time was a whole new experience for me that I’m not sure I quite liked.

A Woman is a Woman by Jean-Luc Godard revolves around an unconventional love story involving a stripper named Angela, her partner Emile, and their friend Alfred. The film tells a story about how Angela wanted to have a baby while Emile didn’t, resulting to endless fights and arguments, and eventually leading Angela to sleep with Alfred who has long been in love with her. The film follows a very different non-mainstream flow that makes it unique which I believe invites its audience to keep their eyes on the screen. Personally, however, I found its unusual interludes and sporadic use of music awkward and quite confusing. I found myself trying to figure out why Godard chose to abruptly cut off a song, or suddenly change the shot or frame, or randomly mute the characters, but I couldn’t understand why. There were also specific scenes I found really weird like that scene where Angela and Emile were fighting and agreed not to talk so instead they would pick up the lampshade to get books from the shelf in the dark and use the books to continue arguing in silence, and that random couple in front of their apartment who kept making out in the same spot on different days. I guess I’ll need a little more guidance to be able to grasp and appreciate Godard’s style. I also didn’t feel connected with the characters in a way that would’ve made me empathize with them. Plot-wise, I think their kind of love story is also very odd because I don’t think I’ve ever come across a love story of a fictional couple where the boyfriend would go around randomly asking strangers if they could impregnate his girlfriend who wanted a baby so badly, threaten his girlfriend that he would leave if she wouldn’t stop asking for a baby, be “okay” with the fact that she actually slept with someone else since he wouldn’t, then out of nowhere decides to have sex with her right after so that there would be a chance that the baby would be his. Weird. Really different. But I guess I could say I kind of liked that about the movie. Despite how uncomfortable I felt throughout, I still picked up something that I appreciated – its portrayal of love and its imperfections, and sometimes, its foolishness.

Overall, I don’t have a strong convincing argument as to why I didn’t find the movie as enjoyable as much as it was expected. I think it’s honestly just the fact that I’m not used to films like this one. But nonetheless, I’m pretty excited for the rest of the movies we’ll be watching and discussing in class because I’m genuinely looking forward to finding and developing an appreciation for movies outside my comfort zone, which is actually the reason why I joined this film class.

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