Four years after May ’68, Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin examine the wreckage: fading workers’ empowerment, media fatuity, capitalist sprawl, global imperialist mayhem, interpersonal disconnections. A nutty structuralist farce that presents a worker’s strike and factory occupation as a theater-of-cruelty exercise in proto-Marxist cant, the film becomes yet another JLG masterstroke thanks to the referential, self-conscious presence of radical princess Jane Fonda—”playing” a petulant journalist unhappy with both her role in an empty modernity and her relationship with sellout director Yves Montand. So fake it’s real to the touch, and mordantly funny, Tout Va Bien is one of Godard’s angriest satires, but insofar as she is clearly used for her polarizing social freight, Fonda comes off today as its co-creator. The same cannot be said for Letter to Jane (1972), included on the DVD, in which Godard and Gorin spend an hour examining the semiotics of a single, hypnotizing photograph of Fonda as she shares feelings with a Vietnamese villager. The questions about responsibility and meaning pile up, and never get answered. Among the other extras is a 1972 interview with an unshaven, coffee-tweaked Godard in his bathrobe, talking the walk.
Also worth considering:
Twentieth Century (Columbia) Howard Hawks’s comedy of remarriage—a melee between a failed Broadway director and the successful ingenue he once mentored.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 15, 2005