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Exploring Foreign Films With Maddie Crichton: “Une Femme Est Une Femme”

Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Official Poster for Une Femme Est Une Femme (A Woman Is a Woman).
Official Poster for Une Femme Est Une Femme (A Woman Is a Woman).

Lesson learned from this week’s foreign film: French is a beautiful language.

This week I watched the 1961 French film Une Femme Est Une Femme (A Woman is a Woman) directed by Academy Award winner Jean-Luc Godard. It was fascinating to see a movie directed by Godard early in my experience, as the connections between his work and American cinema are so strong.

The movie was excellent, but the best part about it was purely the fact that it was in French. I always knew that, like many other foreign languages, French sounded beautiful, but it was not until this film that I realized just how much so. Even when the characters were saying horrible things to one another, it sounded absolutely wonderful. Did I mention that they sing in French, too? Because I could go off on a whole other tangent about how lovely that is, too. The film, more than anything, made me wish I were fluent in this language.

Une Femme Est Une Femme follows a striptease, Angela (Anna Karina) who wants to have a baby. Her boyfriend Emile (Jean-Claude Brialy), however, refuses to have one with her. He suggests that Angela have a baby with his friend who has always adored her, Alfred (Jean-Paul Belmondo). This creates a sticky, yet hysterical love triangle between the three characters.

One of the unique aspects about this movie was that the actors, while portraying their characters, were also playing themselves. There were several moments where they acknowledged the camera, audience, and referred to them having to get back to acting out a scene. Some of these moments seemed abrupt at first, but as time went on created fun and quirky comedic timing.

What I found to be engaging about this film was that though it takes place in a foreign country, it still had the classic Hollywood feel that other movies made in the 1950s and 60s have. This film is a great example of Godard’s influence on American cinema. Une Femme Est Une Femme used many of the common character tropes that we still see today: Angela is the quintessential charming, adorable, fun, but slightly ditzy female lead; Emile is the rough around the edges man; and Alfred is the endearing, yet awkward, best friend. It was in many ways, a classic romantic comedy.

Over 50 years later, this film is still captivating. Its lighthearted and fun beat are timeless, and the characters delightful. Godard took what could have been overly cliché film that gets forgotten, and turned it into an exceptional masterpiece that stands the test of time.

So far, the two foreign films that I have watched were both incredibly different, but both very good. They ways in which they compared and contrasted to the movies I am so used to seeing is interesting, and it shows a lot about how different films can speak to different cultures. This new genre has opened my eyes to a whole new world of cinema, a world that will be exciting to delve further into.

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