Who’s That Girl?


1. Visa de Contrôle Cinématographique 32167

Two or Three Things I Know About Her was the second of three features by Jean-Luc Godard to open in 1967. It was followed by Weekend and has been surpassed by few films, then or now, for plastic dynamism and intellectual spark.

2. A Woman Is a Woman

Marina Vlady stars as Juliette Janson, a suburban housewife and part-time hooker pimped by the demands of an accelerating consumer culture. With the whispered complexities of a semiotic secret agent, Godard’s voiceover introduces her first as an actress and then as a character. Acting is montage.

The “elle” of the title is also “la région Parisienne.” In the manner of cubism, the foreground of the picture—24 hours in the life of Vlady/Janson—is merged with the background, a dense and poignant analysis of Paris in the throes of physical and psychic upheaval.

3. The Limits of My Language Are Those of My World

Mapped out in a series of zones (kitchen, boutique, salon, gas station, hotel, bedroom), the movie’s signature sequence is set in a café inhabited by the ghosts of Baudelaire, Manet, and Wittgenstein. Raoul Coutard’s Techniscope cinematography contemplates an espresso, filling the screen in monumental close-up with a rotating vortex of bubbles and foam. “Maybe an object is what permits us to relink,” muses Godard, “to pass from one subject to the other, therefore to live in society.”

4. The Universe in a Demitasse

“Since I cannot tear myself from the objectivity that crushes me nor from the subjectivity that exiles me, since I am permitted neither to lift myself to being nor fall into nothingness, I must listen, I must look around me more than ever at the world, my likeness, my brother . . .”