Critics simply didn't know what to make of Godard's collection of sounds and images.
Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard despatched a film full of 3D images to the Cannes Film Festival this year in what many are perceiving to be a farewell to the festival from the 83 year-old, who did not attend the annual celebration. Critics seem to be having a hard time trying to decide what to make of Goodbye To Language ('Adieu Au Langage') described as a "70 minute cine-collage" by some and a film "full of moving paintings" by others.
Reuters reports that "The film quoted from writings of painters and philosophers and contained shimmering images of water, trees and flowers." The unusual and thought-provoking entry is Godard's first at Cannes since 2001's In Praise of Love and is described simply by the director in press notes: "The idea is simple: A married woman and a single man meet. They love, they argue, fists fly," he writes.
The director's own dog, Miéville, makes an entrance in the film as "Roxy", alongside "a man and a married woman having an affair [and] gangsters in a Mercedes who threaten to shoot people in a town on the shore of Lake Geneva." Comprised of soundbites and images, the film features Heloise Godet, Kamel Abdelli, Richard Chevallier, and even Godard himself in the cast.
"Cobbling together [...] fragments of images, sound, music and words in ways that evince no surface logic and are often grating (probably intentionally) in how they interact, this is Jean-Luc Godard at 83," remarks THR's Todd McCarthy, adding "since winning his honorary Oscar, Godard is obviously on cruise control."
"It is an uncompromising and exasperating 70-minute cine-collage placed before us on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, composed of fragments of ideas, shards of disillusionment," says The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, who after some though decides that "'Farewell To Language' is chaotic and mad, with longeurs. But it has its own baffling integrity and an arresting, impassioned pessimism."
Godard's festival snub was explained by a video message sent to festival director Thierry Fremaux, in which the octogenarian said "Dear old friend, once again thank you for inviting me to climb your 24 majestic steps, slightly lost in the herd." His words were reportedly then accompanied by images of a herd of cattle.
Described as "'Contempt' meets 'Lassie' by Variety, "'Goodbye to Language,' a characteristically vigorous, playful, mordant commentary on everything from the state of movies to the state of the world from French cinema's oldest living enfant terrible," says Scott Foundas.
The critic observes that the latter half of the film is devoted to the world through the eyes of a dog with one scene depicting a "character declaring that "thought reclaims its place in poop" whilst sitting on the john, complete with scatalogical sound effects." He also notes that although the film is "clearly heavy with melancholy about many things in the world," Godard hasn't "lost his prankster side" as evidenced by "visual gags and punning wordplay."
Goodbye To Language 3D does not yet have a worldwide release date.