Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Adieu Au Langage AKA Goodbye To Language (2014)
Dir. Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Héloise Godet, Zoe Bruneau, Kamel Abdelli, Richard Chevalier, Jessica Erickson, Alexandre Païta, Dimitri Basil, Jeremy Zampatti, Isabelle Carbonneau, Gino Siconolfi

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Jean-Luc Godard figured out a long time ago that a good way to cram as much socio-political nonsense, obtuse plotting and general artsy-fartsy wanking into his films, and still get them released whilst inspiring critics to gush Bukake-like all over his face, was to cram in as many scantily clad or preferably buck-nekkid babes into them as possible. This isn't to say his early output bored and/or annoyed me to the point of inducing anal fissures where the sun don't quite shine for me, but for the latter half of his career, Godard has been full of that stuff he expunges from his hoary, wrinkled orifice de fèces. His new movie, Adieu au langage, is so pungently aromatic of said substance corporelle d'expulsion that sitting in a theatre watching it feels like being in a sewage treatment plant when the intake valves are opened wide.

And it's in 3-D, no less.

However, I'll give Godard a bit more credit here since he has, in addition to inserting plenty o' ganders of a major babe of the French persuasion in various states of dress and undress, but he's brilliantly come up with a recurring image to warm the cockles of pseuds everywhere so they can proclaim Godard is infusing the work with spirit and humanity (as opposed to nonsense). Yes! Godard gives us nudity galore, but he also delights us with endless shots of a cute dog. For all I know, the dog is probably his and he had enough home movie footage so he wouldn't actually have to shoot as much. After all, the movie is plenty lengthy to begin with at a whopping 70 minutes.

So what do we get for our troubles of keeping our eyelids open with toothpicks? Plenty, brother. Let me tell you, plenty. There are a whack of titles and inter titles on top of each other which look ultra-groovy in 3-D. Not only that, but they are THOUGHT-PROVOKING. One of the first blasts of titles we get is - WAIT FOR IT - "Those lacking in imagination take refuge in reality if non-thought contaminates thought." I guess he might be referring to me here. It's okay, Jean-Luc. I'm taking it with a grain of salt.

Get this: soon after the aforementioned declaration, the word "3-D" in thick red letters appears over simple white on black letters that read "2-D" and underneath that, a glob of colour that seems gloriously prismatic or, in fact, is an out of focus medal. Or something. Cosmic, man! Layers of language, meaning and colour are all blended together in eye-popping glory. And soon after, we get one of the first shots of the cute dog who, by the way, appears to be providing the voice-over narration in addition to a whole whack of other voices who could well be people we see on-screen and/or Godard himself.

Good one, Jean-Luc. You've got me scratching my noggin big time over that.

Of course, he also provides inter-titles to tell us what each segment of the film we'll be dealing with. Yes, this is very important, just in case we don't get, for example, that the first thematic concern of the film will be: "LA NATURE" (in simple white on black, but with a huge, thick, red-coloured "1" on top of it). The movie is full of these provocative signposts. He throws us one jump cut after another, one canted composition after another, plenty of old news footage and old movie clips, some old dude going on about Solzhenitsyn and Dostoyevsky, plenty of lamentations about the physical properties of books in juxtaposition with seeing language on smart phones, a passel of claustrophobic shots of the aforementioned naked babe AND as a special bonus, her naked hubby while they yammer on endlessly about God-knows-whatever philosophical ruminating Godard is concerned with.

One of my favourite 'tête–à–têtes includes the naked man taking a crap (replete with the plop-plop sound effects) as he and the naked babe talk about, God knows what. And just so we're not too claustrophobic, he inserts plenty of shots of leaves, trees, flowers, sky, butterflies and, of course the DOG, our (I think) narrator.

And at the halftime, we appear to get an older couple yammering on. I assume it's the same couple, but who knows? Maybe it isn't. Maybe it doesn't really matter. From time to time, you see, we get shots of a bathtub spattered with varying degrees of blood and at one point shots of a paint brush mixing paint and someone offscreen yammering about the properties of watercolours. Is someone murdered? Is it art? I think so. What I do know FOR SURE is that Godard treats us to an absolutely horrendous recreation of Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron on the night "Frankenstein" was written, though the whole sequence takes place outdoors with awful costumes and in broad daylight. I do believe it is Jean-Luc's intent for this sequence to be dreadful.

Finally, though, we run out of nudity and news footage and movie clips and philosophy and we're left, simply, and beautifully with the cute dog. He sleeps silently, dreaming, no doubt of getting the hell out of this movie.

We cut to black. Over the end titles, we hear a baby. The circle of life is complete. We can leave the theatre. I think. No, I stay anyway, just in case Godard has tossed in a few segments from a gag reel.

Adieu au langage, indeed.


Adieu au langage plays during TIFF 2014 in TIFF Masters.