Review: Made in USA (1966)


Made in USA (1966)

Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard | 80 minutes | comedy, crime | Actors: Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó, Marianne Faithfull, Ernest Menzer, Kyôko Kosakam Yves Afonso, Marc Dudicourt, Rémo Forlani, Jean-Luc Godard, Sylvain Godet, Claude Bouillon, Claude Bakka, Philippe Labro, Jean-Pierre Biesse, Daniel Bart, Fernand Coquet, Eliane Giovagnoli, Anne Guegan, Rita Maiden, Miguel, Jean-Philippe Nierman, Danielle Palmero, Marika Perioli, Alexis Poliakoff, Isabelle Pons, Philippe Pouzenc, Roger Scipion

Quirky film-maker Jean-Luc Godard did not hesitate: in 1966 he simultaneously made ‘Made in USA’ and ‘2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle’. In the morning he shot on the set of ‘Made in USA’ and in the afternoon he continued with the dramatized documentary, also known internationally as ‘Two or Three Things I Know About Her’. In any case, ‘Made in USA’ does not live up to its name, because the film was ‘just’ shot in Paris. The Atlantic City where the story takes place is also not the American city in New Jersey, but a fictional French place.

Anna Karina plays the strong journalist Paula Nelson, in search of the murderer of her ex-fiancé Richard P, whom she also calls Dick. Throughout the film, pronouncing Richard’s last name is camouflaged by loud noises such as telephone rings and airplanes flying overhead. A stylistic device that Tarantino later used in his ‘Kill Bill’ films. Despite Paula’s brightly colored dresses, she by no means comes across as a fragile character, and to reinforce this, Godard chooses to pit his muse in one of the first confrontations against the much smaller Monsieur Typhus (Ernest Menzer), who then also pushes them to bed. , so that he may continue the conversation with her about three feet below.

One of the most important remarks is made right after she asks her conversation partner which shoes go better with her dress, only to knock him down with the shoe of his choice. “Fiction is already conquering reality. I feel like in a Disney movie, but one with Humphrey Bogart, so a political movie.” Although, important? Godard isn’t clear in his message, and it’s up to the viewer to get out what’s in it for him or her. For example, he has the doctor, who visits Paula to get more information about Richard’s alleged heart attack, say: “If you don’t like stories, that’s stupid. Dickens, Melville, Hammet can be more useful than movies if you want the truth.” Godard seems to be criticizing his own profession, but in ‘Made in USA’ he also expresses his dissatisfaction with the political climate (fascism, communism, the situation in Algeria in the sixties, the assassination of JFK) and tries to express concerns about consumerism and the loss of freedom (the word liberté is pierced with bullet holes).

The scene in the bar is amusing, in which Paula has a discussion with bartender Paul and another guest about the meaning of sentences, although she hardly participates in the discussion but listens to it more amused. A small role has been assigned to Marianne Faithfull, who sings “As Tears Go By” in a sensitive way. The benefit of this? There isn’t and the same can be said for every single scene: Paula walks through a gym where she is being watched by some beautiful women… no added value to the story, it seems to have been filmed purely for aesthetic reasons. One after the other, often abstract surrealistic, scene follows one another and seems to have nothing to do with the main theme, but that will sound familiar to Godard connoisseurs. There is therefore no point in watching the film if you have any expectation that you will see a story. ‘Made in USA’ is more of a showcase of what Godard is capable of, although some prior knowledge of his work is an advantage, so that you are not immediately thrown into the deep end. But of course it’s funny to hear Anna Karina in a flower garden surrounded by sky-blue walls saying that it’s nice weather to make a color film. The primary colors (yellow, blue and red) are very nicely used and offer a stunningly beautiful spectacle several times.

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