Film review: A Bout De Souffle (1960)

Breathless A Bout De Souffle by Jean Luc Goddard

Breathless A Bout De Souffle by Jean Luc Goddard - Credit: Archant

The appeal of Jean-Luc Godard’s once revolutionary film is now painfully nostalgic but the crude and amateurish scenes retain a timeless magic

My breathless cinema moment was Raiders Of The Lost Ark, in the early eighties. I remember staggering out of that in a state of ecstatic agitation: who knew films were allowed to be that much fun?

If I’d been born two decades earlier perhaps it would’ve been Godard’s debut.

Back then its innovations - handheld camera, the jump cuts, fourth wall breaks and location shooting with passers-by staring into the camera - was this great unleashing of energy. Who knew that cinema could be so wild and free?

Of course, Hollywood movies are now so packed with fun that they’re often a bit of a chore and viewers coming to A Bout De Souffle for the first time may be a bit surprised that this amateurish-looking film is some kind of big deal.


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It’s so crude it often resembles a group of friends wandering the streets of Paris re-enacting scenes from the crime drama they have just seen.

But it’s hard to deny there’s a timeless magic to Jean Seberg in her stripy top and pixie haircut crying “New York Herald Tribune.”

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Once it was revolutionary, now its appeal is painfully nostalgic.

4/5 stars

Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, Daniel Boulanger, Richard Balducci, Jean Pierre Melville. 60th Anniversary 4K restoration. Black and White. French with subtitles. Blu-ray, DVD and VOD. Running time 89 mins.

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