Though Yann Gonzalez’s aesthetic is far more lurid and drenched in cinematic influences from all manner of makers before him, his wider conceit of making a film within a film owes a lot to the European art house cinema. Jean Luc Godard is a clear influence and the humour of Le Mepris resonates in Knife + Heart.
- Tara Judah, Watershed Cinema Curator
Jean-Luc Godard’s subversive foray into commercial filmmaking is a sumptuously stylish and sardonic study of marital breakdown, artistic compromise, and the cinematic process.
When failed playwright Paul (Michel Piccoli) is hired to adapt Homer’s Odyssey into a film script for a new production, he finds himself torn between the crass demands of a philistine American producer Jeremy (Jack Palance), his loyalty to the film’s director (Fritz Lang, playing himself) and his own self-respect. Whilst his producer is envisaging some kind of commercially successful, Hercules-style rip-off, his director, by contrast, wants to make an art film. To make matters worse, Paul’s indecision is getting to his increasingly disillusioned wife (an iconic performance from Brigitte Bardot) - a sexy former typist that the producer has his eye on.
Set in Italian architect Adalberto Libera’s astonishing house on the Isle of Capri and making the most of cinematographer Raoul Coutard’s luscious sun-kissed camerawork and Georges Delerue’s achingly lovely score, Godard's film is a beautiful combination of the classical with the radical.