A WOMAN IS A WOMAN || 1961, France / Italy || Musical || Directed by – Jean-Luc Godard / Written by – Jean-Luc Godard, Geneviève Cluny / Produced by – Georges de Beauregard, Carlo Ponti / Music by – Michel Legrand / Cinematography by – Raoul Coutard / Editing by – Agnés Guillemot, Lila Herman / Production Design by – Bernard Evein / Starring – Jean-Claude Brialy, Anna Karina, Jean-Paul Belmondo / Running time: 85 mins.
Hot off the heels of the groundbreaking international success of Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard had his go at more quirky and comedic grounds with A Woman is a Woman, a very different type of picture on paper but still retaining the excitement and impulsiveness that is most representative of the French New Wave. The leading lady in the film is none other than Godard’s muse Anna Karina, in a pretty and lively turn and she plays a female exotic dancer who dreams of motherhood. Her failing attempts at convincing her yuppie boyfriend to have one with him lead her into the arms of his best friend Alfred, who is a polar opposite proletariat alpha male. Fun, exciting and colourful.
A Woman is a Woman is a musical comedy, which can count on some excellent compositions by Jacques Demy regular collaborator Michel Legrand. It is a film that is at once quirky and honest about certain portrayals that are true of female sexual liberation and the sexual revolution of its times. Interesting to note that such a contrast is highlighted by the character played by Karina, who is at once living what can be described as a modern lifestyle whilst entertaining more traditional female desires.
Simultaneously, however, it is also another film in which Godard unearths and re-invents certain more conventional modes and mechanisms about cinema itself, with great depth, love and cleverness. While the film does not outdo the ingeniousness of Breathless, nor is it as impressively charismatic as the similar Crazy Pete which also starred Karina and Belmondo, the latter here playing the part of the manly Alfred. However, it is cheeky, anarchic and entertaining enough to make it a worthy addition to his early works. – 4/5