Movie Information

In Brief: Minor and lesser Godard that isn't going to be to everyone's taste. (Much the same could be said of Godard in general.) This is actually one of the frequently impenetrable filmmaker's works. Ostensibly, it was made in order to get the money to make another film and might be viewed as a work for hire. Though hiring Godard and taming Godard are very different things. The film is set in a hotel where various groups of people — some law-abiding and some not — collide over the course of the story or stories. It's almost Godard making a French bedroom farce, but with crime at its center. As Godard goes, it's almost giddy.
Genre: Crime Comedy Drama
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Starring: Laurent Terzieff, Aurelle Doazan, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Natalie Baye, Claude Brasseur
Rated: NR



Those who unreservedly adore everything Jean-Luc Godard signed his name to are apt to appreciate his 1985 film Detective more than those of us who are less convinced of his unassaible greatness. Even so, there’s no denying that Detective is interesting in the extreme. The film is, yes, a comedy, but the term takes on a different shade when it’s in Godard’s hands. Detective isn’t so much geared toward generating laughs as it is toward making fun of itself — or perhaps I should say of the type of film Godard was expected to deliver. I think calling it “playful” might be nearest the truth. Everything about the presentation falls under that heading — from the extended credits to the film’s deliberately obvious melodramatic slabs of Schubert, Wagner, Liszt, etc. that constantly pop up on the soundtrack. It’s a film that defies you to take it seriously. And while that’s all to the good, overall it feels kind of lazy to me. Shots — taken from what appear to be arbitrary angles — run on and while nothing much happens. (Cue the Godard contingent to object that this is brilliant mise-en-scene.) It has a kind of offhand look — like not a lot trouble was taken in its making. But, oh, yes, it’s interesting.

Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Detective Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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