Le Petit Soldat | 1960

Genre: Drama /Crime

Author : Srivathsa

This review was featured in India's national newspaper - Here

Synopsis: "Le Petit Soldat" has Godard's signature all over it.

Jean Luc Godard, the French auteur of new wave films (along with Francois Truffaut), always has his own way of making films. His introduction of jump cuts of editing, in his debut masterpiece "Breathless (1960)" was a revelation. "Le Petit Soldat" by Jean Luc Godard, is not as self aware as his "Breathless" preceding it, but duly nurtures itself with its crucial pretention-less Godardish cinematic wisdom.

"Le Petit Soldat" (The Little Soldier) follows Bruno Forestier (Michel Subor) as a young French secret agent in Geneva and his love Veronica Dreyer (played by Godard's often cast, extraordinary Anna Karina). This little soldier of Godard gets trapped between two sides during the Algerian War Crisis. The real crisis begins, when the suspicion on Bruno surfaces, given that his girlfriend belongs to the left radical group. They suspect him of being a double agent.

This French film noir could’ve been a political thriller, filmed on a large magnitude, but Godard takes it to a more personal and delicate plane. He thoughtfully moves on with the film's focus as the protagonist's personality features and his morals. Historically calculated, but artistically amazing, "Le Petit Soldat" is not an effortless watch for the popcorn film audience. The cinematography is handheld all over, as in any of Godard's earlier ventures. It subtly touches the torturous moods and fears of the terrorists, which is where; Godard punches his mark, as one of the very best, new wave film maker. The movie doesn’t get too political at any point and Godard's meek obsession for automobiles in many scenes, is vastly evident.

The black and white cinematography startles beneath the lively direction of Jean Luc Godard. The movie also marks an indication of ruthless crimes, starting from the individual levels. The performances of the leads are very natural and realistic (the director's trademark). There is a scene, where Bruno gets painfully tortured in the bathroom of a lone dark flat; and another one with photographs of the previous victims, shared unsympathetically. It's quite simply, the example of how dark, funny, thrilling, yet artistic and visionary Godard can be.

"Le Petit Soldat" was Jean Luc Godard's second film after the mind blowing innovation of "Breathless". The quintessence of the movie lies in the heart of the protagonists and significance given to the attitude of the subject. I would consider this a must watch for anyone, who is in look for an academic new wave film and for others, it's a must learn.

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