Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967) *1/2 First Viewing
A Warning! This review will be fragmented and abstract and not necessarily speak much to the film. This last season of Mad Men was mostly on my mind during the viewing of this classic French film by New Wave Director Jean Luc Goddard. I’m putting my deconstruction disclaimer up front, like Goddard.
Released in 1967, I imagine Megan made Don to see the film on the advice of one of her actress friends. Megan wants to be an artiste, you see, but lacks the self-reflection needed to create authentic art. She’s not dumb, just life has been too easy for the rewards she wants. Her rewards will always be echoes of other people’s work. Even the work that she creates fully has phantom meanings and phantom worth.
Don worships the image. Ascribing meaning to image, imbuing art with hidden desires is his bread and butter. If something has meaning, then it also has desirability. If it has desirability, well, then, you can sell it. You can reinvent it. You can create meaning and desirability where nothing previously existed. That’s America.
Anything desirable has transactional qualities. Although, Don is slowly learning that transactions have costs sometimes not worth bearing, transactions that are neither fair nor known.
Anyway, Don hates the movie. It goes after the corrosive nature of the consumer culture, it works overtime to separate meaning from image, words from meaning, the nature of meaning from itself. It’s a very anti-American film, both saying America is a great evil by being in Vietnam and by saying that we are stuck as who we are. America even fucks the lead. Literally. I get it, Don thinks. America Uber Alles.
We are helpless victims that only know we have arms and legs and hearts because of the failings of language. The characters, mostly interchangeable, spout what seems like nihilism. There’s no narrative, no story, only situations. Fragmented images, unrelated actions, and meandering philosophy 101.
Be real, like people can be, Don thinks.
There’s a God-like narrator who whispers, ashamed or unsure? It’s all pointless deconstruction. To create you must destroy, Don’s heard, but it’s all destruction. No onward. No upward.
The lead of the film, Juliet, is a house wife who prostitutes herself for extra money. Very transactional. She desires nice clothes, has some nice clothes, but finds no meaning in her life, in her things. Did she call herself a thing? Really?
Shouldn’t this be a dream instead of just an abstraction?
Megan does feel a twinge inside. The acting game of late has been feeling very transactional, very abstract. She also wishes for forward momentum in the movie, but none arrives, no answers to those problems given. The husband, Roger (Ha), in the movie is remote, living on a plane other than his wife.
Where’s the connection? He has his own obsessions, his own wars in his head, and rarely even seems to talk to her, much less even look at her. His back is always to the camera, it seems.
She is pretty and has some nice clothes. No one has to sacrifice, no one is asked to sacrifice. Is stasis the new revolution? Is there even revolution in stasis?
Unlike Don, who seems angry at the ‘anti-ness’ of the film, Megan is non-plussed. The women don’t mind being house wives and prostitutes? They’re also not happy or unhappy, that’s frustrating. Are they just things? Do they want to be things, accepting a hidden fate? The film demands that you don’t absorb it. She thinks, I’m French Canadian, why didn’t I connect?
Later in the evening, after sex, Don works on his latest ad campaign and Megan works on forgetting. The next day, they tell their friends and co-workers that they saw the movie and leave it at that.
The film’s themes are dated. The philosophies, the film’s tricks, the ideas, everything, feels dated. Maybe if I was still in college, it would have the sheen of deep meaning, but we all gotta grow up sometime, stop pondering and live life.
Everything we consume already comes to us pre-deconstructed. Deconstruction is nothing new anymore. My favorite show is MST3K for goodness sake.
I recently read an article by a black writer complaining about Mad Men. He said, it’s not that they’re white as to why I feel so disconnected to the show, it’s that their problems and dramas are too esoteric for me to relate to.
See, meta. The orboros of life.
Things I learned from 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her:
—Parisian whore houses have good daycare.
—If everyone in the film stopped smoking and drinking, no one would need to be a housewife/prostitute.
That’s about it.
Do It: Saints Row 3. It’s Grand Theft Auto deconstructed and made much, much stupider. My most played video game this year.
Avoid It: Candle Wax Ear Treatments. C’mon, don’t be a chump.
The Tweeter: Did you know Prince often writes songs while dreaming. Also, you should forgive him if they go astray or sue him if they go too fast. #partylikeits1999
The Facing Book: Hey everybody, check out this news story…(insert what you’re reading here)
Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The 400 Blows (1959), or #500. Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969).