Every Man for Himself
Jean-Luc Godard calls this 1980 production, Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie), his "second first film"-which means both a return to narrative after his brilliant documentary-theoretical work in the 70s and a complete clearing of the decks. You feel him questioning his entire life here, his most basic impulses and ideals, and his honesty is devastating; he emerges as a hollow man, trapped between the limitations of his politics and his sexuality, with barely enough ego left to imagine his own death. Of course, the film's substantial artistry belies Godard's self-negation: with his formal, four-part ordering of the narration, the tension he establishes and exploits between sound track and image, and his use of slow motion to analyze and abstract the action, Godard pulls an aesthetic victory from the jaws of utter nihilism. With Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye, and Marguerite Duras (on the sound track only). In French with subtitles. 87 min. -Dave Kehr