The “her” of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1966 masterpiece is Paris in the throes of redevelopment. It’s also a Parisian housewife (the glowing Marina Vlady) who moonlights (or, rather, daylights) as a prostitute in order to afford the luxuries — designer dresses, name-brand consumer goods — that come part and parcel with urban living. Less a narrative than a succession of loosely interconnected scenes laced through with Godard’s whispered musings on everything from the origins of language to the war in Vietnam, the film finds one of cinema’s greatest innovators at the height of his playfulness, quoting his earlier films, making astringent observations about the individual’s relationship to the city and flooding the screen with candy-colored wide-screen compositions we’d expect to find in a Doris Day–Rock Hudson rom-com. “Living in society today is like living in a vast comic strip,” he remarks early on, and then sets about proving it. Everywhere he turns his camera, Godard, who was just a couple of years away here from embarking on the heavily Marxist films he would make in concert with Jean-Pierre Gorin, sees capitalism run amok, not least in a model city constructed entirely from store-bought sundries. In perhaps the movie’s most iconic image, an entire galaxy seems to swirl inside a cup of coffee, which seems an apt metaphor for the way Godard sends your mind into a heady spin. For anyone who still wonders what “the big deal” was about Godard in the 1960s, this is one ticket you can’t afford to miss. (Nuart)
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