Jean-Luc Godard, Film Socialisme, 2010, still from a color film, 101 minutes.


AN INTERTITLE READING “NO COMMENT” is the final image of Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme, and the director himself followed suit, canceling the press conference—which many were expecting (praying?) would be the highlight of this year’s middling, low-energy festival—after the 11 AM Un Certain Regard screening. Rumors began circulating last night, via Twitter feeds and second- and thirdhand accounts, that Godard, who was last at Cannes with 2004’s Notre musique, wouldn’t attend, but these weren’t confirmed until anxious journalists began forming a scrum outside the press-conference room. According to AFP and Libération, the seventy-nine-year-old auteur, who led the charge to shut down Cannes in 1968 as a sign of support with France’s striking workers and students, sent a fax to festival head Thierry Frémaux with this cryptic explanation: “Following problems of the Greek type, I cannot be present at Cannes. I will go to my death with the festival, but I will not take a single step more.”

Language in Film Socialisme, with a typically prolix script, becomes even more mystifying in its subtitles, which JLG chose to render in what he has called “Navajo English,” the predicate-less idiom of Native Americans in old Hollywood Westerns; a digression on Africa in this overstuffed cine-treatise is translated as “aids tool for killing blacks.” The director returns to the topics that have dominated his film essays for at least twenty years: Israel and Palestine (“staying Haifa / right of return”), the Holocaust, the death of Europe, war. Film Socialisme may, however, be the first Godard work with LOLcats. But probably not the last.

Melissa Anderson

Film Socialisme is available through Video on Demand Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18 here.