Two or Three Things I Know About Her (French: Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle) is a 1967 French New Wave film written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, one of three features he completed that year. As with the other two (La Chinoise and Weekend), it is considered both socially and stylistically radical. Village Voice critic Amy Taubin considers the film to be among the greatest achievements in filmmaking.
|Two or Three Things I Know About Her|
|French||Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle|
|Directed by||Jean-Luc Godard|
|Screenplay by||Jean-Luc Godard|
|Based on||"Les étoiles filantes"|
by Catherine Vimenet
The film does not tell a story so much as present an essay-like study of Godard's view of contemporary life; Godard wrote that "I wanted to include everything: sports, politics, even groceries. Everything should be put in a film." Godard narrates the film in a whispered voiceover in which he discusses his fears about the contemporary world, including those related to the Vietnam War. The film frequently cuts to various still shots of bright consumer products and ongoing construction.
As with many of Godard's works, the film does not follow the narrative arc of conventional cinema with an introduction, conflict and resolution. Instead, it presents 24 hours in the sophisticated but empty life of Juliette Jeanson, a seemingly bourgeois married mother and prostitute. Juliette begins her day by dropping her screaming child off with a man who provides care for the children of prostitutes. Her uneventful daily routine of shopping, housework and child-rearing is interspersed with client encounters. All of the film's sexual interplay is banal rather than erotic, and one client, an American wearing a shirt with his country's flag, demands that the women whom he has hired wear airline shopping bags over their heads.
Although the film had a script, the cast often breaks the fourth wall, looking into the camera and delivering seemingly random monologues about life and themselves. Vlady and other actors wore earpieces through which Godard asked surprise questions, often catching her off-guard because she was required to give spontaneous answers that were appropriate to her character.
The film features Beethoven's String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135.
- Marina Vlady as Juliette Jeanson
- Roger Montsoret as Robert Jeanson
- Anny Duperey as Marianne
- Raoul Lévy as John Bogus, the American
- Jean Narboni as Roger
- Juliet Berto as girl talking to Robert
- Christophe Bourseiller as Christophe Jeanson
- Marie Bourseiller as Solange Jeanson
Godard began production in the summer of 1966. Shortly afterward, he was approached by producer Georges de Beauregard to quickly make a film to offset a financial shortfall incurred after Jacques Rivette's film The Nun (1966) was banned by the French government. Godard agreed and began production on Made in U.S.A (1966), his last film with Anna Karina. Godard would shoot Two or Three Things I Know About Her in the morning and Made in U.S.A in the afternoon simultaneously each day for one month.
The film was first inspired by an article by Catherine Vimenet in Le Nouvel Observateur about prostitution in the suburbs, titled "Les étoiles filantes" ("The Shooting Stars"). Godard stated that during the film he wanted "to include everything: sports, politics, even groceries" and that the film was "... a continuation of the movement begun by Resnais in Muriel: an attempt at description of a phenomenon known in mathematics and sociology as a 'complex'." The film's most famous shot is a lengthy close-up of a cup of coffee. In an essay, Godard stated that "... basically what I am doing is making the spectator share the arbitrary nature of my choices, and the quest for general rules which might justify a particular choice." He added, "I watch myself filming, and you hear me thinking aloud. In other words, it isn't a film, it's an attempt at a film and presented as such."
Juliette lives in one of many luxurious high-rises being erected in the banlieues (suburbs) of Paris. Though the structures were meant to provide housing to families working in the growing capital during the prosperous post-war years, Godard sees the banlieues as the infrastructure for promoting a value system based on consumerism, a term he equates with prostitution itself. Godard argued that a consumerist society demands a workforce living in regimented time and space, forced to work jobs they don't like, "a prostitution of the mind."
On 25 October 1966, Godard appeared on the television program Zoom to debate with government official Jean St. Geours, who had predicted that advertising would increase, as the basic impulse of the French society at the time was to increase its standard of living. Godard explained that he saw advertisers as the pimps who enslave women to the point at which they give their bodies without compunction, because they have been convinced that what they can buy has more potential to bring happiness than does the loving enjoyment of sex.
As with many of Godard's films from the mid-1960s onward, Two or Three Things I Know About Her demonstrates his growing disenchantment with the United States. This contrasts with his earlier French New Wave films such as Breathless (1960) that make admiring references to American cinema and actors.[original research?]
A promotional poster for the film offered different meanings for the "her" of the title, each one a French feminine noun:
- HER, the cruelty of neo-capitalism
- HER, prostitution
- HER, the Paris region
- HER, the bathroom that 70% of the French don't have
- HER, the terrible law of huge building complexes
- HER, the physical side of love
- HER, the life of today
- HER, the war in Vietnam
- HER, the modern call-girl
- HER, the death of modern beauty
- HER, the circulation of ideas
- HER, the gestapo of structures.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Two or Three Things I Know About Her marks a turning point in Godard's filmography – one that may confound more narratively dependent audiences, but rewards repeated viewings."
Two or Three Things I Know About Her won the Prix Marilyn Monroe in 1967 from a jury that included Marguerite Duras and Florence Malraux.
Many regard the film as being among Godard's most significant works. It received 19 top-10 votes (16 from critics and three from directors) in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films ever made.
The film was re-released in CinemaScope on 17 November 2006 for a two-week run at Film Forum in New York City.
- ^ a b Taubin, Amy (21 July 2009). "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her: The Whole and Its Parts". The Criterion Collection.
- ^ Adrian Martin, commentary track on the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
- ^ Monaco 1976, p. 173.
- ^ a b c d Wakeman 1988, p. 396.
- ^ a b c Monaco 1976, p. 178.
- ^ Brody 2008, p. 278.
- ^ Monaco 1976, p. 179.
- ^ a b Zoom, 25 October 1966, available on the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
- ^ Monaco 1976, p. 180.
- ^ "Two or Three Things I Know About Her". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
- ^ "Votes for 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (1967)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
- ^ Lane, Anthony (12 November 2006). "Material Witness". The New Yorker. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
- ^ Dargis, Manohla (17 November 2006). "'Two or Three Things I Know About Her ...'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2022.
- Two or Three Things I Know About Her at IMDb
- Two or Three Things I Know About Her at AllMovie
- 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her: The Whole and Its Parts – an essay by Amy Taubin at The Criterion Collection
- Brody, Richard (2008). Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard. New York: Metropolitan. ISBN 978-1-4299-2431-3.
- Monaco, James (1976). The New Wave: Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1950-2246-9.
- Wakeman, John, ed. (1988). World Film Directors, Volume Two: 1945–1985. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company. ISBN 978-0-8242-0763-2.