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Breathless (French: À bout de souffle) is a film you can't press the pause button on; it demands from the viewer no interruptions, lest they miss any of the raucous story tripping over itself before them.

Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard and out in 1960, Breathless follows self-proclaimed "asshole" Michel (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo), who is on the run after killing a police officer and also trying to track down money owed to him. He steals cars and cash and seduces women along the way. In Paris he hooks up with a couple girls, the first to get money off of and the second, an American named Patricia, because he claims he loves her.

What got my attention were all the short cuts and lots of, I assume, intentionally choppy editing between the cuts. This added to the film's renegade feel; it breaks rules of the time. For example, the "hero" is a "louse," a word that comes up three or four times. The naive Patricia has few redeeming characteristics, until towards the end, when she sees things for what they really are. But the bad guy is at the center here, and he's not so much a "bad guy" in the traditional or villain sense but rather a smug jerk—a type that doesn't usually get the main spotlight. As an early example of French New Wave cinema (which rejected the conventions and narratives of traditional cinema), and Godard's first big film project, it's an interesting and wild film to watch that's so fast-paced it speeds up the pulse.

Soundtrack by jazz artist Martial Solal here on Spotify.


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