Leave it to master provocateur Jean-Luc Godard, 71, to lay on the hottest love-it-or-hate-it movie around. The plot barely exists: A director (Bruno Putzulu) wants to make a film, a play or an opera involving three couples of various ages (young, adult, elderly) and the four stages of love (the meeting, the physical passion, the quarrels and separation, the reconciliation). The film starts in the present, which Godard (ever the contrarian) shoots in black-and-white, while he films the past in the most modern manner: in color on video. Godard has traded the dazzle of his 1960s cinema (Breathless, Bande a Part) to focus on cinema as political dialectic (Germany Nine Zero, JLG/JLG), but his passion hasn't abated. Nor has his anger, which he once expressed by saying, "My aesthetic is that of the sniper on the roof." The former critic who once celebrated Hollywood auteurs (Howard Hawks, Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray) uses his new film to denounce the makers of Titanic and The Matrix and the likes of Julia Roberts and Steven Spielberg. The director of Schindler's List is rabidly attacked by Godard for exploiting the Holocaust. For all its bile and incoherence, In Praise of Love is filled with haunting images and insights. Godard may be a lion in winter, but the lion still roars.
From The Archives Issue 906: October 3, 2002