I watched Jean-Luc Godard’s less than seminal 1961 movie, La Petit Soldat, and let me tell you… it’s not that it straight up sucked, but it helped me to realize what I really hate about him: his misogyny. Sure, one could try to shut me down and say I just don’t UNDERSTAND his films, and maybe he’s trying to skewer the millions of sexist ass-heads in the world. But I don’t think so. I haven’t studied his biography to find out if he reflects the same views as some of his main characters, but in any case, if don’t want me to think YOU are a misogynistic bastardcock, then don’t create main characters who hate women because “they grow uglier as they age, unlike men who grow more handsome.” La Petit Soldat contains by far the weakest main character of any Godard movie I’ve seen. Unattractive, unwitty, uninteresting in the writing and the actor’s execution (despite being a French counterrevolutionary against the Algerians; an interesting IDEA for a character, sure. Imagine an Afghan counterinsurgent…), constant misogyny to make him seem badass, and the actor was nowhere near a Belmondo or a Brialy. I’d say he was on a different damn planet: Planet Wackness. Godard had his head up his ass on this one. The only thing about La Petit Soldat that makes it notable is the scene in which the main character is brutally tortured by Algerian revolutionaries (though nowhere near as wrenching as the torture scene in The Battle of Algiers. Admittedly, that scene was perpetrated against the Algerians, so…). The mediocrities pervading the rest of the movie only serve as prologue and epilogue to that scene.
Plus, what’s been bothering me since Alphaville is, in all Godard’s movies during the sixties, the whole “breaking the fourth wall” routine got really stupid and distracting. It becomes a game in some of these flicks: when not enough is going on, I always say “An actor is going to look at the camera any SECOND now!” And then one of them does. After the tenth time, I’m expecting it; it’s just not shocking anymore. It’s worse in La Petit Soldat than in Alphaville though.
Godard made some perfect films: Breathless, A Woman is a Woman, Masculin Feminin, and there a million I haven’t seen. But I’ve also seen Hail Mary. Sometimes, the man just didn’t QUITE know what he was doing.