Masculin, Feminin– BAGATSING, Mona

It was a very refreshing experience to watch Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin, Feminin. Living in a generation such as mine, where pop culture seems to be the most dominant thread in society, I found myself appreciating how Godard’s film made me feel that, even though the social milieu may have changed between then and now, the essence of human experience remains the same.

Growing up, I have always found myself veering away from mainstream behavior, which may be the reason why I felt a certain kind of connection with Paul, the male protagonist of the story. His teenage angst and deviant behavior really reached out to me as I watched the film. I can relate to his struggle to make sense of the world around him. His awakening to so many things – his sexual desire towards Madeleine and his political views towards America and capitalism – reminds me of my very own questions in this day and age. These elements combined to make a very intriguing facet to the plot that made me want to get to know the characters more and see what they are thinking.

The way Godard depicted the budding romance between Paul and Madeleine was really unique, especially if put side-by-side with how directors do it now. For me, the story had a different kind of romanticism; it was more accessible and real. It didn’t have the kind of witty dialogue and cheesy scenes that is so prominent in Hollywood movies today, which is why I appreciated it a little more. Even though the cinematography had a certain grit and dullness to it that is, in my opinion, intrinsic to certain French films such as this one, I still liked the vibe because it added a sense of authority to the reality that Godard wanted to portray to his audience. I really appreciated how I was given a ticket to see what it was like in France during those times in such a raw presentation; it was devoid of the type of over-editing that I seriously hate in most films we have now. In fact, the film’s cinematography reminds me of Filipino independent films today, except that it isn’t as agonizingly long and dragging.

The way Godard deconstructed youth culture in the 60’s made me think of what it would be like if the same director had to do it again now. It was such a brave social commentary on Godard’s part. I am sure that it wasn’t commercially tasteful then, just as I am sure that the film still wouldn’t be commercially tasteful now, but I think it works because that’s exactly what Godard is trying to do. His film makes fun of its audience’s very Hollywood-fake sensibilities to show how commercial everything has become, which isn’t so different from Paul’s views as a French teenager who hates America.

This film is very representative of Godard’s political views during those times, and he injected it in the film in such a cavalier way that really made me smile a little. Maybe, filmmakers today should all take a lesson from Godard… and be a little less commercial.

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