Contextual Studies – CCW Film Review
As a 21st century viewer, Une Femme est Une Femme presents itself as nothing out of the norm; a dilemma where a woman is in love with a man who cannot accommodate her desires, whilst his best friend, madly in love with her, is more than willing to deliver. A somewhat common predicament in many present day romance soaps and movies.
However, empathizing as a viewer from that era, Une Femme est Une Femme, is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. It’s seemingly simple plot line is explored in depth through the means of musical jubilation and the genuine sense of playfulness with which it is filmed.
Michael Legrand’s musical score justifiably acts as a character on its own, a charismatic addition to many of the scenes. During Angela’s performance at the Zodiac, for example, the music is a part of the song in the fact that it sings alongside her; she performs a capella and the music is accredited in the sense that it is not background music, the two act as an intertwining verse-by-verse performance. Furthermore, emphasizing my opinion that the music acts as an essential character, the only time the music and Angela come together during her performance is on the last word: “belle”. Whether coincidental or not, I can’t be sure, but it seems to me that to a certain subconscious degree it seemed to reinforce the notion of the film, in that Angela wants a child and only the coming together of her and Emile could do so, just as the coming together of the music and her voice make something “belle” (beautiful). In my opinion, its cinematic presence throughout the film, is used to accentuate the comedic relief within a scene or as apart of the musical quota of the act, unlike in Godard’s, Alphaville, where the music is clearly background music used to implement the depth of the scene.
In fact, the use of music as a core element is reminiscent of how Susan Philipsz employs music as the core element of her artwork. Philipsz’s musical arrangements are intellectually magnetic and inspiring and truly embody “Singing as a physical and sculptural experience,” as noted by the Turner Prize, just as Legrand’s music embodies the playful and narrative characteristics of this film.
Even during arguments, the music paints the scene with a sense of playfulness adapting it as a form of playground warfare, where serious matters are dealt with trivially. In fact, the harsh characteristics of the film and it’s almost “heartless characters” (Christopher Null), defined by the way they choose to treat eachother in ways of betrayal and unfaithfulness, are concealed in humour through the triviality, allowing for the film to in fact hold up its own standard that “It might equally be a comedy or a tragedy because it’s certainly a masterpiece.” Angela and Emile’s argumentative methods of using book titles rather than actually speaking echoes a sense of triviality, yes, but reflects on the creative depth of the film making process as well as adding the necessary comedic quality to a seemingly normal couple, giving this film the unique essence that has allowed it to be timeless.Godard’s clever use of witty music and childlike argumentative means gives this film, more-so than Godard’s later works, the freshness that deemed it part of the “French New Wave.”
The full movie can be seen here, just follow the links on the right side of the page for the remaining parts.