Two In the Wave (Deux de la Vague) Directed by: Emmanuel Laurent Cast: Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Léaud Running Time: 1 hr 35 min Rating: Unrated Release Date: December 3, 2010 (limited)
PLOT: Using archival footage, filmmaker Laurent tells the story of the rise and dissipation of the French New Wave through it's two most lauded directors, Godard and Truffaut.
WHO'S IT FOR? It helps to know something about the French New Wave or be familiar with some of the films. But it could work as a primer too.
EXPECTATIONS: When I was in college, I had a friend who was obsessed with the New Wave and I learned a lot through him and seeing films with him. So I thought I was reasonably well versed.
TALKING: The film's in French with English subtitles. There's a good deal of narration that tells the parallel stories of Godard and Truffaut in a fairly straightforward manner. I found it a little reminiscent of the narration in Jules and Jim actually. Precise, quick dialogue that's kind of droll without being funny. That contrasts with Godard who seems very full of himself and has no sense of humor at all. Plus he's always wearing those sunglasses so I sort of want to punch him in the face. Score: 6
SIGHTS: Much of the film is made up of appropriate archival footage, interviews, news footage and of course scenes from the movies being discussed. But there are also scenes showing a woman reading letters and articles that are being discussed by the narrator, presumably the narration is her internal monologue? It's an odd decision, but not a bad one, it seems to fit in with the subject matter anyway. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Everything sounded consistent. That's good, right? Score: 6
BEST SCENE: My favorite scene was really an add on during the credits, it was Léaud's camera test for The 400 Blows. He's an amazingly engaging young man, I can understand how he got the role, and more precisely, how he would appeal to Truffaut in particular. He's so natural on camera, it's like the camera isn't even there.
ENDING: Not enough time is spent on the later careers of Truffaut and Godard, the film ends on their split but doesn't really make it clear how successful they were in later years. I'd kind of like to know, at least from their own points of view. I find Truffaut's later films kind of conventional and Godard's unwatchable, but I'd like to know what others think.
QUESTIONS: What sort of politics did Godard become enamored with? If Godard and Truffaut had made films earlier or later, would they have been as revered?
REWATCHABILITY: Unless you're a film scholar, it's not one that you'll rewatch over and over.
A well made and informative film, Two In the Wave tells the story of the development of the New Wave through Truffaut and Godard's experiences as collaborators and rivals. It does a decent job of making a topic that seems a bit intellectual and off-putting watchable. Still, I got the impression that Laurent revered the two men too much to really delve into their relationship and find the dirt. He hints at a rivalry between the two men, especially after Truffaut wins the Best Director award at Cannes in 1959. He suggests that Godard made Breathless, his first and best film, to win some of the accolades that were being showered over Truffaut. Or maybe that's just my reading of it. It's something to think about.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10