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My Life to Live
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Nana (Anna Karina) is a Parisian salesgirl who drifts into prostitution. The story is told in the form of a documentary, separated into 12 tableaux. Godard has said that the division into tableaux was to emphasize the theatrical nature of the film, and also because when you look at something for too long you end up knowing less about it. Breaking it up into bite-size chunks can be helpful. What we see is a romantic portrait of womanhood caught between her own role (she wants to be an actress) and that which she is allowed or compelled to do. This is brought home most poignantly when Nana goes to a showing of Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc and her tear-streaked face is intercut with that of Maria Falconetti playing Joan, about to be led to the stake. Add to that the further layer that we have a Danish actress (Karina) in a French film, watching a French actress (Falconetti) in a Danish film, and the implications play out grimly. This is one of Godard's finest films, both austere and compellingly watchable. --Jim Gay
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Top customer reviews
The film stars Anna Karina as Nana a young and beautiful woman of Paris. She is dissatisfied with her life as a young mother. She leaves her husband/boyfriend(?) Paul to take up the life of an actress. Having no money she resorts to prostitution, first on her own and then with a pimp named Raoul(Sady Rebbot).
The film is presented in twelve parts (Film en douze tableaux)each showing a segment of Nana's life each with its own title card. Each segment beginning or ending on a closeup of Karina's face.
This is truly unique cinema. Godard's framing and film grammar are the stuff of film school classes. The music by Michel Legrand helps set the tone to perfection and the black and white photography by Raoul Coutard is stunning. The camara is not so much a device but a character we are the camara as it is constantly moving and watching. It expresses the way one person views another. The film shows us the outside of characters without ever getting into motivation. Things, like life, just happen.
The disc by Fox Lorber is pretty bare bones but this is one film that needs to be seen by any serious student of film. Seek this one out. It has been said that it may be out of print soon as ideas of what make good film vary from year to year. This is a must have for any collection.