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"Breathless" (1960) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #67 Gem Mint 10.0


“Breathless“ (1960)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Writer: François Truffaut (original scenario), Jean-Luc Godard (screenplay), Claude Chabrol (original scenario)

Starring: Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Van Doude

Rated: Not Rated (but I would give this a PG-13 for brief nudity and sexual references, violence and mild language)

Runtime: 1h 30min

Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance

Country: France

Language: French | English


A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.


You might like this if you like: French New Wave cinema, Gangster Movies, Film Noir, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Crime Films, Romantic Crime Films, France, Paris, Dramas, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Van Doude


Jean-Paul Belmondo (left) & Jean Seberg (right) in "Breathless" (1960)


My first introduction to French New Wave cinema. I’d been led onto the movement when I was in college and this was the only one I checked out at the time. It wasn’t until later did I really sink my teeth into the French New Wave.

One of the most memorable elements of “Breathless” (1960) for me was the music. Every time I start this movie the music always brings it all back to me.


Jean Seberg in "Breathless" (1960)


I love that as much as the French New Wave was a rebellious movement of what the French thought was wrong with American cinema, they still pay high honor and respect to them. In “Breathless” (1960), Humphrey Bogart stands out as a leading influence (obvious shot of him in the film), especially for our protagonist; Michel. Evening going as far as giving Michel the last name (of his alias) “Laszlo” much like the famous name of “Victor Laszlo” played by Paul Henreid in the Humphrey Bogart film; “Casablanca” (1942) who was also a wanted criminal.

At one point in the film, Jean Seberg’s character ‘Patricia’ says, “I’d like be called Ingrid” in a fantasy conversation she and Michel are having. Again, much like “Casablanca”s leading actress; Ingrid Bergman. The connections and influences are endless.


Jean-Paul Belmondo in "Breathless" (1960)


As the film goes on I found my trust and sympathy shift over to our leading lady; Jean Seberg who to be fair, isn’t introduced until almost 10 minutes into the picture. Michael is just an entertaining piece of sh*t. He’s a bad boy who doesn’t seem to care about much other than himself. He seems amused by romance but not passionate necessarily. Patricia Franchini (Jean Seberg) immediately becomes the heart of the whole film for me. Teetering between these worlds of crime, love and herself.


Jean-Paul Belmondo (left), Jean Seberg (middle) & Jean-Luc Godard (right) on the set of "Breathless" (1960)

It captures what I feel is the beginning of independent filmmaking. The use of hand-held camera movements, the lack of movie sets & backdrops, natural lighting and just pure freedom of perspective.


Written by Sam Gall on 10/03/20


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"With Breathless [Godard] is attempting to break down the rules of the form he loves so much, in order to let us know that it is ALL on the table now, from subject matter to form." - Dan Jardine, Cinemania


"The film that launched the French New Wave, Breathless remains an outstanding testament to the great ideals of fun filmmaking that infused the movement." - Mike Edwards, What Culture


"To me, and I suspect to most cinephiles, this is the rush that makes moviegoing addictive: the sensation that the film's world was so full that it has spilled into the sights and sounds beyond the theater's doors." - Stuart Klawans, The Nation


"Breathless jumps to its own rhythm and pokes holes in its idols even as it worships them." - Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News


Official Trailer:


Available on various VOD platforms


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