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Le Mépris

Contempt

France/Italy 1963
produced by
Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard for Les Films Concordia, Compagnia Cinematografica Champion
directed by Jean-Luc Godard
starring Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance, Fritz Lang, Georgia Moll, Jean-Luc Godard, Linda Veras, Raoul Coutard
screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard, based on the novel Il Disprezzo by Alberto Moravia, music by Georges Delerue

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Fritz Lang (himself) is directing the Odyssey, but while he wants to make the film true to Homer's original, his producer Prokosch (Jack Palance) wants a reinterpreted version of the story - even if it makes little sense - and to that end, he hires screenwriter Paul (Michel Piccoli), to add a little pizzaz to the screenplay. Paul happily accepts, mainly because he needs the money for a downpayment on the appartment he and his lovely wife Camille (Brigitte Bardot) have just moved to. And though he's in no way convinced by Prokosch's reinterpretation of the Odyssey, he soon acts as a puppet for his new boss and even tries to get his wife to be a little nice to him.

Eventually, the action shifts to Prokosch's private villa on Capri, where Paul and Camille and Fritz Lang are the producer's guests - and it is here where Paul has to realize his relationship to Camille is crumbling: Because of his attitude towards both Prokosch and herself, Camille has fallen out of love with Paul and starts feeling growing contempt, all the more so because he doesn't seem to realize where he has gone wrong and thinks it is only because she thinks he had an affair with Prokosch's assistant (Georgia Moll) - which he in fact didn't. Worse yet, he thinks he does everything she's loathing so much only for her ...

In the end, the couple split up, and Camille is driving back to Rome with Prokosch, who has always been longing for her ... when a truck hits their car and they both die instantly ...

 

Jean-Luc Godard at his best: Despite a certain heavy-handedness of Alberto Moravia's source novel, Godard has created a great looking melodrama that's both intelligent and entertaining and that despite the lack of too much of a story keeps the audience glued to the screen throughout, thanks to perfect pacing, flashy camerawork, beautiful locations, Brigitte Bardot's frequent nude scenes (no full frontal or even nipples, but plenty of shots of her perfect behind), witty dialogue that's not too brain-heavy, great acting by all of the involved and an almost infectuous fascination towards filmmaking as such.

Recommended.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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