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Every Man for Himself, June 16

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction

Friday, June 16, 2006
7:00 p.m. Every Man for Himself
Jean-Luc Godard (France/Switzerland, 1979)

(Sauve qui peut [la vie], a.k.a. Slow Motion). Godard called Every Man for Himself his second first film. It does leave one breathless. His first feature after eight dry years was an achingly lyrical film about the selling of the self. Three non-souls—Paul Godard (Jacques Dutronc), a bespectacled videomaker working in television; Paul's lover Denise (Nathalie Baye), heading for the country; and Isabelle (Huppert), a farm girl turned city prostitute—cross paths in a nameless Swiss city. In a wonderfully wry script by Jean-Claude Carrière and Anne-Marie Miéville, the central metaphor is a Rube Goldberg–like human configuration conceived by a businessman for three prostitutes (one of them Huppert): "The image is O.K.," he says after much practice. "Let's work on the sound." In true Godard fashion, each character is a cipher for ideas, and each a refracted side of the director himself. While Paul looks myopically through life's lens, Jean-Luc plays dazzlingly with its beauty, fragmenting the image in frame-by-frame stop motion, savoring something that is lost to these soulless times.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Jean-Claude Carrière, Anne-Marie Miéville. Photographed by William Lubchansky, Renato Berta, Jean Bernard Menoud. With Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye, Roland Amstutz. (87 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)