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A Woman is a Woman (The Criterion Collection)

37 customer reviews

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(Jun 22, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

With A Woman Is a Woman (Une Femme est une femme), compulsively innovative director Jean-Luc Godard presents "a neorealist musical, that is, a contradiction in terms." Featuring French superstars Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Jean-Claude Brialy at their peak of adorability, A Woman Is a Woman is a sly, playful tribute to - and interrogation of - the American musical comedy, showcasing Godard#s signature wit and intellectual acumen. The film tells the story of exotic dancer Angéla (Karina) as she attempts to have a child with her unwilling lover Émile (Brialy). In the process, she finds herself torn between him and his best friend Alfred (Belmondo). A dizzying compendium of color, humor, and the music of renowned composer Michel Legrand, A Woman Is a Woman finds the young Godard at his warmest and most accessible, reveling in and scrutinizing the mechanics of his great obsession - the cinema.

Special Features

  • New digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Raoul Coutard
  • An early short film by director Jean-Luc Godard "All the Boys Are Called Patrick"
  • Qui etes-vous Anna Karina?, excerpts from a 1966 French television interview with Karina, Brialy, and Serge Gainsbourg
  • Collection of A Woman is a Woman publicity including trailers, rare on-set photos, a poster and stills gallery, and an audio recording
  • 24-page booklet featuring essay by film critic J. Hoberman

Product Details

  • Actors: Anna Karina, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anne Collette, Nicole Berger
  • Directors: Jean-Luc Godard
  • Writers: Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Geneviève Cluny
  • Producers: Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard, Pierre Braunberger
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2004
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001ZIYDO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,976 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Woman is a Woman (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Can Godard's sixties films be anything less than sensational ? " A Woman is a Woman " remains one of his most magnificent, a dazzling cinematic hymn to the Hollywood musical, and a celebration of his then wife, Anna Karina. Karina plays Angela, a nightclub stripper who yearns for a baby. Her practical boyfriend, Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy) insists that they marry first, and in her frustration she turns to Emile's friend, the romantic Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo)...
Seldom has the old cliché of the love triangle been filmed with such verve and innovation, and the movie is funny, tragic, happy and sad, and ultimately triumphant. The performances are wonderful. Brialy is fine as the boyfriend torn between his love for Angela and his stubborn pragmatism and Belmondo is typically cool, complete with customary cigarette permanently dangling from his mouth. Both male leads are peripheral however, for this is Karina's movie, as she examines the complexities of life and the difficulties of being a woman.
Technically, Godard is at his most playful, employing his usual array of stunning cinematic devises - there are visual gags galore, fluid tracking shots, Raoul Coutard's garish photography ( Godard's first film in colour ), a soundtrack of deliberately exaggerated big band music that seeming appears and disappears at any given moment, and the kind of referential cinema that Godard loves. There are nods towards Francois Truffaut and his films " Jules et Jim " and " Shoot the Piano Player " and at one point Belmondo mentions a screening on TV of " Breathless ", Godard's groundbreaking first feature.
Like nothing you've ever seen before, " A Woman is a Woman ", is a time capsule no doubt, but definitely a masterpiece for all time...
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Autodidact on July 24, 2004
Format: DVD
The New Wave has been assessed in every intellectual capacity, and using every aesthetic criterion imaginable, but what makes the New Wave the most beguiling of cinematic phenomenon is that, in essence, it is a declaration of the love of cinema, through cinema itself.

AWOMAN IS A WOMAN ("Une Femme est une Femme"), Godard's third film, is as much a milestone as his own "Breathless" two years earlier. The basic premise is effectively that of a kitchen sink drama; an exotic dancer's (Anna Karina) whim to have a baby is met with consternation by her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy), who is further dismayed when she asks a mutual friend (Jean-Paul Belmondo) to act as a surrogate father.

But the neo-realist background gives way to a film shot in bold, giddy colours and synchronised to Legrand's harebrained soundtrack - A WOMAN IS A WOMAN is best described as a musical with no singing. Actors frequently affect choreographed like stances and positions, their conversations punctuated with overtly dramatic interventions from Legrand's score. Our heroine expresses her desire to appear in an American musical, "with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse", before adopting the relevant deportment for the approval of the audience, who are constantly consulted, bowed to, winked at and cavorted with by actors revelling in front of Godard's lens.

It is Godard's preference for the actor, in favour of the character, that makes A WOMAN IS A WOMAN an unparalleled experience in spontaneity. Filmed without a script, the actors wear their own clothes and concoct their own dialogue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2008
Format: DVD
Godard is beginning to grow on me. Maybe it's because I'm watching his films from the sixties, made when I was a teenager in France, and the nostalgia appeals to me. Maybe it's because his work seems free and easy, uncontrived, almost amateurish compared to some other famous film makers. Or maybe it's just that I like this particular pretty girl he features.

She is pretty, gangly Anna Karina starring as Angela, an exotic dancer who is madly in love and wants to have a baby. Godard has a lot of fun with her, encouraging her to mug for the camera, getting her to do movements that cause her to trip and look not just gangly and very young like a pre-adolescent, but even clumsy--and then to leave the shots in the film, probably telling her, "This is a comedy. You need to be not just beautiful, but funny, warm, vulnerable."

Karina does manage a lot of vulnerability. Her exotic act including her singing is...well, there are usually only a handful of customers in the joint and so her skills are probably appropriately remunerated. Again this is intentional since Godard wants her to be just an ordinary girl without any great talent, someone with whom the girls in the audience can identify. But the irony is that the girl must needs be at least pretty. Karina is more than pretty. She is exquisite with her long shapely limbs and her gorgeous countenance.

One of the compelling nostalgic elements is the way women did their eyes in the sixties: so, so overdone! Although I thought that look was oh so sexy then, today I would like to clean the blue, blue--or is it purple?--eye shadow and the black, black mascara off of Karina's face and see her au naturel!

But it is the sixties in Paris--Gay Paree, Paris in the Spring, the City of Light!
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