Critic Consensus: This powerful work of essential cinema joins "meta" with "physique," casting Brigite Bardot and director Godard's inspiration Fritz Lang.
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Critic Reviews for Contempt
"Contempt" transports us back to another era: an early '60s world in which the classicism of the past...is juxtaposed with the emptiness and ennui of modern culture.
The film is about nothing but cinema itself, which gets a bit wearing, unless you are one of those people who like watching a movie in order to check off the references to other movies. Still, it's a masterwork of some sort.
The miracle here is that for all its use of irony and self-reflexive devices, Le Mepris still ends up with a considerable emotional punch.
This is one of the French new wave master's seminal films, a satire on the making of a Hollywood-style movie that exploits Bardot's femme fatale Camille with no less aplomb than Hollywood itself.
Audience Reviews for Contempt
A powerful and devastating story that depicts with painful honesty the gradual dismantling of a marriage triggered by an ambiguous lack of trust, and it is a big-budget Godard gem that blends sentiment and intellectual musings in a very unique way.
Godard's first major international picture is a visual feast. The use of Cinescope is startling and the colors are so brilliant that they seem to leap off the screen. Godard also utilizes some of the subtly hypnotic camera work that we saw in his previous films. For instance, in one conversation between Camille and Paul, Godard lifts a scene verbatim from 1962's Vivre Sa Vie. Aside from the camera work, the film is a heartbreaking look at the disintegration of a marriage, the price of selling out, and the constant tug of war between the classical and the modern. It moves at a snail's pace but once you get a feel for it, it can at times be rather touching. With that said, I feel like Godard missed a lot of opportunities to achieve a genuine catharsis. The ambiguity of Bardot's contempt for her husband places a wall between the characters and the viewer. While I can appreciate ambiguity, in a film which centers on a single relationship I think the audience needs more to run with. On top of this, Palance's performance seemed to rub me the wrong way. I know that he is the greedy American producer, but his performance seemed way too over the top to be believable. While not Godard's best, it is definitely worth a watch.
"There's nothing like the movies. Usually, when you see women, they're dressed. But put them in a movie, and you see their backsides." Paul Javal is a writer who is hired to make a script for a new movie about Ulysses more commercial, which is to be directed by Fritz Lang and produced by Jeremy Prokosch. But because he let his wife Camille drive with Prokosch and he is late, she believes, he uses her as a sort of present for Prokosch to get get a better payment.
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