TOUT VA BIEN(director/writer: Jean-Luc Godard/Jean-Pierre Gorin; cinematographer: Armand Marco; editors: Claudine Merlin/Kenout Peltier; music: Paul Beuscher; cast: Yves Montand (Jacques), Jane Fonda (Suzanne), Jean Pignol (Delegate), Vittorio Caprioli (Italian Factory Manager, Marco Gulotti), Elizabeth Chauvin (Genevieve), Castel Casti (Geneviève); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jean-Pierre Rassam; New Yorker Films; 1972-France-in French and some English with English subtitles)
“It’s the kind of in-your-face political film about the class struggle where the indiscriminate viewer might feel guilty munching on popcorn.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
After a four year turn at making small-scale political films in 16mm and in the video format under the Dziga Vertov Group, Jean-Luc Godard teams up with Jean-Pierre Gorin (“Vent d’Est”/”Letter to Jane”) to co-direct and co-write this commercial venture that was financially backed by Paramount (Godard’s first since “Weekend”) in an attempt to make political thought more accessible to a wide audience. It’s a leftist comedy built around skits taking note of a 1972 food processing plant strike for better wages and better working conditions, that gets out of hand.
Jane Fonda is an American TV news reporter living in Paris with her French husband, Yves Montand. He’s a former activist in the 1968 uprising who for the past four years has stopped being a “New Wave” film director to direct TV commercials, which he somehow justifies as being more honest work. The couple are held as hostages by a vocal Marxist group that go against their union reps and hold the plant executives as hostages in their offices, even forcing them to follow the same unfair ‘going to the bathroom rules’ the workers must endure. When the befuddled couple is released two days later, it shows that their marriage is rocky over growing political differences and the mundane quality of their married life. The couple are trying to figure out their place in the new France, a country they lament for not learning its lessons from the May 1968 riots.
The film plays on Fonda’s radical image and international star appeal. Though the message is leftist, the medium that delivers it is the conservative film industry. Its purpose was to rekindle the spirit of 1968. It uses the same composite set used by Jerry Lewis’s 1961 “The Ladies’ Man,” allowing for the viewing of all the offices of the striking plant at once. There’s also the penultimate scene that uses a long take tracking shot through an ultra-modern supermarket, that becomes chaotic when a Commie activist is selling his book there and that leads to an attempt to get free food by looting.
This anti-bourgeois film addressed to the masses never brought them into the theaters, maybe because even if it was pretty to look at and had two major movie stars, the viewers still found it dull, unperceptive, didactic, unfunny and stridently polemical. It’s the kind of in-your-face political film about the class struggle where the indiscriminate viewer might feel guilty munching on popcorn.
REVIEWED ON 11/17/2007 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ