If you check out Rotten Tomatoes, it seems critics are firmly divided on the new movie by French director Michel Hazanavicius, Godard Mon Amour, which is about the legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. This critic will share his own opinion in the next day or so, but in the meantime, I had the unique opportunity to have a tête-à-tête with Hazanavicius when he stopped into Miami for the movie’s U.S. premiere at the Miami Film Festival. He said he understands the critics … at least in relation with the cult of personality of Godard.
“There are two groups of people that love Godard,” said Hazanavicius. “One worships him to such a point that they can’t bear that someone could make fun with him or could be ironic. You have to love everything, and you can’t be critical, and because the work is so good, you have to love the man. It’s like a sect … and for the other group, for some reason, have a more relaxed way, they’re OK with it. Like in the jazz culture, you can make a jazz variation that’s like a tribute. You can have your own distance.”
The film, which features actor Louis Garrel as JLG, is not a comprehensive biopic of the still living and working director (he has a new movie competing at Cannes this month). Instead, it covers several formative years for the director, during his late 30s, while he was married to actress Anne Wiazemsky (played by Stacy Martin in the movie). Hazanavicius read her book, Un an après, and said he fell in love with her depiction of Godard. He found their marriage sad but with many instances of great humor. “I thought I could make a comedy with that tragedy,” he said.
He also said this was an important time for Godard creatively. “I think it’s the first major fracture in his life. That’s something that he went through like every decade. He destroys everything around him, he erases everything he did before, and he tries to create something new, and I think it all started here.”
Hazanavicius said it’s important that this happened during the 1968 student and worker riots that nearly overthrew France’s government. “I think it’s very interesting that it’s for a political reason because I think it’s his way to be a real revolutionary, like the permanent revolutionary. Every decade he built something, and when he’s fed up with it — I don’t know what is exactly the process — but every decade almost he destroys it, and he tries something new … He doesn’t want to be predictable.”
In turn, Hazanavicius does not think he’s presenting some sort of definitive, realistic representation of Godard. “It’s a fiction, it’s a movie, so it’s just my interpretation … All the movie is saying is I love you. I love what you did, and what you did was very important, and look at this, how it can be classy and fun and witty.”
You can read much more of my conversation with Hazanavicius, where he talks about how he convinced Wiazemsky to allow him to make the movie, his own insecurities in depicting Godard and then dealing with actor Louis Garrel’s own doubts in capturing the legendary director in the Miami New Times. Jump through the headline below:
Godard Mon Amour opens exclusively in South Florida on Friday May 4 at the Coral Gables Art Cinema. Further north, in Palm Beach County, it plays at the Movies at Delray Beach and at the Movies at Lake Worth.