JEAN-LUC GODARD is trolling us! That's the only way I can explain the hot mess that is Goodbye to Language. Here are some alternate titles I came up with while I sat through Godard's latest: Goodbye to Coherence, Goodbye to Everything Else I Could Have Done This Morning, Goodbye to Sanity.
Goodbye to Language is only 70 minutes long, but it feels much longer. Yes, it's in 3D, though for no discernable reason. I usually like snooty, plotless French movies, but Goodbye to Language's focus barely shifts from Godard's dog—and when it does, it goes to people mainly just sitting on benches and talking, or leering shots of a naked woman's body. They're boring subjects, overlaid with some of the worst pseudo-philosophizing I've ever heard, along with pretentious dialogue about bowel movements, Google, and saying no to life.
This is to say nothing of the movie's technical problems, which led the two other critics at my screening to conclude that Godard is so famous even his mistakes are considered meaningful. If Goodbye to Language's numerous glowing reviews and warm Cannes reception are any indication, they're absolutely right, and Godard is trolling us. Good for him, I guess?
Granted, Godard is old. Maybe Goodbye to Language really was a good-faith effort—a (very expensive) film experiment. But I'm reminded of another now-ancient director who came up with Godard in the '60s during the French New Wave: Agnès Varda. Varda is 86. Her subject matter has changed as she's aged, but her movies have only gotten more interesting. Varda gives a shit. I can't confidently say the same of Godard. That's too bad, but it doesn't make Goodbye to Language worth your time.