BREATHLESS (À BOUT DE SOUFFLE) (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
209 West Houston St.
Through December 7, 1:00, 2:50, 4:40, 6:30, 8:20, 10:10
The fiftieth-anniversary restoration of Jean-Luc Godard’s Nouvelle Vague classic, BREATHLESS, will leave audiences, well, breathless. Godard’s first feature-length film, buoyed by an original treatment by François Truffaut and with Claude Chabrol serving as technical adviser, is as much about the cinema itself as it is about would-be small-time gangster Michel Poiccard (an iconic Jean-Paul Belmondo), an ultra-cool dude wandering from girl to girl in Paris, looking for extra helpings of sex and money and having trouble getting either. Along the way he steals a car and shoots a cop as if shooing away a fly before teaming up with Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg) and heading out on the run. Godard references William Faulkner and Dashiell Hammett, Humphrey Bogart and Sam Fuller as Michel and Patricia make faces at each other, discuss death, and are chased by the police. Anarchy prevails, both in Belmondo’s character and the film as a whole, which can go off in any direction at any time. Godard himself shows up as the man who identifies Michel, and there are also cameos by New Wave directors Jean-Pierre Melville and Jacques Rivette. The beautiful restoration, supervised by the film’s director of photography, Raoul Coutard, also includes a brand-new translation and subtitles that breathe new life into one of cinema’s greatest treasures. Although many of the restored movies that play at Film Forum do so immediately prior to DVD release, no DVD is currently planned for this version of BREATHLESS, so if you missed it when it ran earlier this year, you’ll have to catch it during this return engagement, which ends December 7.