A Married Woman (Une Femme Mariee) (1964) is a film by acclaimed filmmaker Jean Luc Godard (Breathless). The film stars Macha Meril (Belle de Jour) as Charlotte, a young woman who is torn between choosing between her husband Pierre (Philippe Leroy) and her lover Robert (Bernard Noel).
Charlotte is a young woman living in Paris with her husband and son. She spends much of her time reading hip fashion magazines. Philippe Leroy (La Femme Nikita) stars as her husband, Pierre. Bernard Noel (The Fire Within) stars as Robert, Charlotte's lover.
A Married Woman isn't story driven as much as it is idea-driven. Godard is famous for being a filmmaker who disregarded standards of traditional filmmaking. It was one of the core elements of his style which helped to make him a prominent figure in the French New Wave. It was even this determination to make films in a different style to anything else (without following classical storytelling) which caused a rift in his friendship to fellow New Wave filmmaker, Truffaut (who believed in the merits of classic storytelling).
Jean Luc Godard's films tend to feel like a perfect example of style over substance but that doesn't mean he doesn't try to tackle bigger ideas. The issue is that those ideas are usually explored in abstracts and aren't strung together with a decent story. A Married Woman certainly suffers from its altogether poor characterizations and weak storytelling. The film feels less like a film and more like an essay (or even a series of essays). The film explores ideas which must have been important to Godard at the time but each exploration feels like an abstract of a written essay on the topics of superficiality, ego, consumer-culture, and even surprising (and poorly-handled) commentary on the holocaust.
Godard's film doesn't contain genuine characters. Each of the characters in the film seems to be superficial and barely explored. Instead, it merely is a film which exists to explore themes and ideas. A Married Woman also does so while trying to remain as unique in style as any of the other Godard films. Stylistically, A Married Woman is a unique and different creation but it doesn't excel at being either entertaining or thought provoking just by its uniqueness.
The cinematography by Raoul Coutard (Breathless, Jules and Jim) is one of the few strengths of the film. Coutard was one of the great cinematographers of the French New Wave. This film is certainly one with excellent black and white photography. The production design is by Henri Nogaret and seems reasonably impressive.
Jean Luc Godard (Breathless, Band of Outsiders) is certainly an auteur filmmaker. However, his films are often frustratingly abstract and lacking in good storytelling. It's part of his style. While some of his efforts have impressed me most seem too cold in their filmmaking approach. This effort is one of the weaker Godard films I have seen. Godard seems more interested in stylish framing and exploring ideas than in telling a good story. While it's certainly not as terrible as later filmmaking efforts like Goodbye to Language 3D it's not on par with some of his better early works. A Married Woman is a disappointing early work by Godard which suggests the essay-like filmmaking direction he would explore more later in his career.
A Married Woman is presented in a newly remastered version. It is presented in black in white in the original 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio with a 1080p MPEG-4 encoding. No DNR has been applied to the video presentation. This release has a natural filmic quality. This presentation is quite good on a technical level and should please fans of the film.
The film is presented with a lossless 24 bit Uncompressed PCM French mono audio. A Married Woman unfortunately sounds dated as it lacks a strong lossless audio presentation. The fidelity could have certainly been better. Though the dialogue is easy enough to understand the sound quality is a bit harsh sounding and is not as pristine as one might hope for. Still, this is a decent audio presentation with a quality encode by Cohen Media Group.
The release contains several supplements. Each bonus interview is subtitled in English and is presented in High Definition. Inside of the case, there is also a booklet featuring a cast list, credits, and photographs from A Married Woman.
Interview with Macha Meril (32 min.) is the lengthiest interview. It features the lead actress of A Married Woman as she discusses working with Godard on the film, casting, and the filmmaking process.
Interview with Antoine de Baecque features a conversation with the author of Godard about the film and the work of the filmmaker during the period of production on A Married Woman.
Interview with Agnes B. (21 min.) features the actress discussing her time spent working with Jean Luc Godard. She discusses her affection for his films and for the French New Wave.
Original Theatrical Trailer
A Married Woman is not one of the best filmmaking efforts of Jean Luc Godard. As with many other films by the filmmaker, it is certainly an effort which will mostly appeal to his longtime fans. For those who consider Godard hit-or-miss (or worse) this film isn't any better. As with many of Godard's later-period works, this is one which feels more like an essay than a film.
Fans of Godard's A Married Woman will be pleased with the quality remastered presentation and may consider it a worthwhile release.
Everyone else: Skip It.