So, this review is going to require some disclosure. I do not enjoy 3D movies. Never have, likely never will. My eyes do not register the effect very well, and the consequential blurring and discoloration that is often a by-product of the 3D rendering process tends to pull me out of the experience rather than immerse me. So, it is very well possible, if not probable, that by watching Goodbye To Language in 2D, rather than the 3D for which it was filmed, I have deprived myself of the substantial purpose of the film. Furthermore, I do not generally watch art films. I tend to prefer narrative pieces, which is why I generally stick to films reasonably likely to be known by my audience. However, May is shaping up to be a slow month for notable home video releases, so I thought I would try my hand at something different.
Being that this is an art film, it will most certainly not be for everyone. Between the experimental shifts in coloring to the seemingly arbitrary dialogue and voiceover (all appropriately enough in French), many a viewer is sure to be baffled by an hour with no readily apparent purpose. Goodbye To Language is best classified as an audio-visual experience rather than a traditional narrative motion picture, and like all art, what you take away from it will be completely unique to you.
The film is comprised of two interchanging parts: “Nature” and “Metaphor.” “Nature” is paradoxically set primarily in urban locales, cars, or in a person’s home, and dialogue philosophizes over visual chaos. My takeaway from these portions was that as language evolves, it becomes harder and harder for us to understand one another, because language is no longer about communication but individual expression. “Metaphor,” on the other hand, primarily focuses on a dog wandering through the woods with observational voiceover as accompaniment. I took these portions to be representative of there not being a need to communicate at a base natural level. Now, my interpretations may not be the understood norm of what this art piece is supposed to represent, but given my usual avoidance of art without structure, this is the best I can come up with.
Director Jean-Luc Godard is best known for founding the French New Wave film movement in the 1960s, which tends to abandon character, story, and form in favor of experimentation with film as a medium. That is precisely what he has done here, though as a two-dimensional experience it is hard to judge it as anything revolutionary. New Wave techniques have worked their way into popular cinema over the decades, so perhaps the 3D experiments Godard performed here will make their way into our annual blockbusters. I don’t rightly know, and I likely never will, given my distaste for this particular experiment. So is Goodbye To Language a good film? I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer. I don’t regret the hour I spent with it, but I don’t think I could recommend the film with any enthusiasm either. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you think yourself a person who would enjoy abandoning narrative fiction for an hour to simply experience something. And only you can answer that question.
Have any experience with art cinema? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.