Goodbye to language

Jean-Luc Godard, whom some still think is one of the greatest film-makers of all time, has never won the Palme D’Or at Cannes. And it is highly doubtful that he will with Goodbye to Language, his latest offering. But one couldn’t help liking the 83-year-old’s first essay in 3D. It’s a first class piece of kidology in which Godard twists us round his little finger, smiling sourly the while.

There is no discernible plot, though a couple appear to be going through a bad time, coming together and parting at regular intervals. But the star of the film is not them but Jean-Luc’s mongrel dog Roxy, who wanders in and out of the proceedings with the eloquent insouciance, as only an intelligent mongrel can.

Despite the film’s title, there are some choice bits in it which rely on language. Dogs, says the commentator, are the only animals who love their owners better than themselves. Then there’s the story of someone asking Mao what the effect of the French Revolution had been. “Too early to tell”, replied Mao.

Seriously, this is Godard in playful form, whacking some excellent music (Dvorak, Beethoven etc) onto the soundtrack and supplying some splendid visual moments in between vicious cutting often involving the ordinary world we know about and the frightful nature of war and conflict we can only just imagine.

There are some nude ladies too, as usual in Godard movies. They are likely to cheer some people up. But most received the film in respectful silence as if a Godard film had got to be good. I have to confess I liked it. At a mere 70 minutes, it certainly made some otiose competition entries look silly. The master still knows what he is doing even if we often don’t.