Adieu au Language (2014)


France/Switzerland; Jean-Luc Godard

Mature Audience – Strong Nudity; Sexual Content

In a string of barely connected sequences, we witness the domestic and philosophic tribulations of an adulterous couple meeting for sex, observed from the viewpoint of a dog. The woman is married and the return of the husband threatens to shatter everything. The tension is tangible, but none of them choose to discuss their situation and lose themselves in metaphysical musings. Other outdoor scenes capture the dog straying in the countryside, in the midst of a lavish and comforting nature.

It would be unfair to say that Adieu au Language is boring and tedious. Apart from spanning only a merciful 70 minutes, it has enough visual élan to maintain a certain momentum. But the truth is the movie will keep you awake not because of any intrinsic qualities but precisely because it is so incredibly bad and therefore unwittingly amusing. At first, exploring this ugly mess is a cinematic exercise that can be worth trying for the sake of pure entertainment.

But on second thought, it is tragic that a legend like Godard, whose witty, warm and fuzzy early triumphs enchanted us and cracked open a whole new world of possibilities for the counterculture, could end up with such scorn for the world and for what true art is as to deliver this. If this is counterculture nowadays, then it’s not even worth trying being a rebel anymore.

Bad taste (men and dog defecating, gratuitous nudity and sex) is only one facet of this ugliness. Maybe even more upsetting is the complete incapacity to say something new and meaningless, to convey emotions. Has Godard, whose latest endeavor seems walled in misanthropy, pomposity and egoism, forgot what is cinema about? It would indeed be tragic, given that he had more than a world to say in this definition.  

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