I first saw Jean-Luc Godard’s Tout Va Bien (Everything Is Fine) four years ago when World Cinema first ran the film. I watched it again for this new screening because I had (I thought) forgotten nearly everything about it. After 15 minutes, I realized I hadn’t, but I watched the whole film to see if I felt any different about it — and in some ways, I did. It was only this time that it struck me that it’s at least partly intended as a comedy (the problem is that Godard isn’t very good at comedy). The entire opening, with its elaborate Jerry Lewis-inspired (well, Godard is French) set at the sausage factory, is comedic or at least absurd satire. (It only occurred to me this time that the big shaved set looks ahead to the more effectively playful use of such in Wes Anderson’s films.) I also believe that the fact that the characters played by Yves Montand and Jane Fonda are deliberately uninteresting — a comment on the film’s own statement about being an easier sell if it contains stars. (It doesn’t matter whether they do anything noteworthy.) That’s fine, but it doesn’t make that aspect of the film entertaining. The question then is whether or not Godard cares about being entertaining. My guess is he doesn’t — and, dubious as that seems, it may be the point.
Four years ago, I wrote: “Fascinating, flawed, infuriating, muddled, occasionally mind-numbingly boring and as impossible to turn away from as a road accident, the 1972 Jean-Luc Godard/Jean-Pierre Gorin collaboration Tout Va Bien (Everything Is Fine) is like a lot of things in film — and like nothing else. If I’d seen the film when it came out in 1972, I’m certain my 17-18-year-old self would have found it deeply profound—at least to the degree that I’d suspect it was my inalienable right to cause dissent at a supermarket. Coming to the film for the first time now, I’m more than a little suspicious that Messrs. Godard and Gorin hadn’t the first clue what they were doing, but decided to go ahead and do it anyway. That’s both the curse of the movie and the major point of interest.”
Full review: http://avl.mx/sy
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Tout Va Bien Friday, May 3 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com