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Redoubtable: Screenwords Meets Director Michel Hazanavicius

Nadia Bee talks to director Michel Hazanavicius about his latest film Redoubtable. 

A cheerfully iconoclastic film, Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable has provoked both ire and delight. Jean-Luc Godard is considered such a key figure in both European culture and political history that to treat him with levity is outrageous to some, and just deserts to others. Hazanavicius has said that critical responses have, at times, been as if he’d peed on the Sistine Chapel.

The late 1960s marked a turning point in Godard’s career as a filmmaker. He was already well-known for his brilliantly innovative approach to film form, and for his political engagement. He then took film form much further, with his 1967 film La Chinoise – an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel The Possessed. It starred his then wife, Anne Wiazemsky. Wiazemsky had been Robert Bresson’s muse, and acted in his film – held by some to be the greatest film of all time – Au Hasard Balthazar (1966). While still very young, she was already a person of note in France, in her own right.

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LFF 2017: Redoubtable

One of the unofficial laws surrounding biopics is the more complex and rich the subject, the more reductive and superficial the treatment of the life. Redoubtable is ostensibly about a great cinema revolutionary, Jean-Luc Godard, but his life and art are alas interpreted by Michel Hazanavicius, a director who wears his slim talent for pastiche heavily.

Hazanavicius is best known for The Artist, one of the least deserving Best Picture Winners in recent times. The Artist was an amusing idea for a short film inflated into a bland caricature of silent film comedy. Before The Artist, he was best known in France for the OSS117 films, the kind of James Bond parodies that make a rainy Sunday afternoon bearable when there are no real James Bond films on TV. After The Artist, Hazanvicius reached for the stars and fell from his stepladder with an unwieldy remake of Fred Zinnemann’s The Search. Not without ambition (or humility) he now gives the world his take on Godard’s mid-sixties period and marriage to actress Anna Wiazemsky with a few rear-view glances of the political ferment of France in 1967/68.

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