Goodbye to Language 3D is the latest installment in Jean-Luc Godard’s series of grumpy old man filmic essays. Here the 83 year old director addresses many contemporary first world time wasters; tossing casual sex, big screen TVs and texting into the same rubbish bin of cheap thrills. In a plea for a return to simpler times, much of the film follows Roxy, Godard’s beagle mix, on his daily forays into the familiar splendors of the natural world. The film’s 3D effects are creatively plotted and often used to emit a blinding visual swirl beyond the resolution of human optics. To call the film an experiment is not quite accurate, but it has the raw, improvised feel of recent Godard features. And, typical of Godard, it has several storylines that never pursue any type of traditional arc, but rather serve as platforms for the director’s abrasive opinions and observations.
Goodbye to Language features a few comforting tropes that have become mainstays in Godard’s post-new wave style. Noisy, color saturated video processing reminiscent of In Praise of Love (2002) graces several scenes while the scenic ferries of Lake Geneva offer picture postcard 3D vistas. There are also elements that have fascinated the director throughout his long career, such as circular conversations between shacked-up lovers and snippets of narration lifted from classic novels and philosophical tomes.
For an octogenarian filmmaker, Godard is surprisingly - if not ahead of - at least on the production curve with Goodbye to Language. Many of Roxy’s rambles appear to have been casually shot with an iPhone while the film’s concise 70 minute duration feels to be the perfect length for a distracted society engrossed in various multi-tasks. But for all humanity’s advances, Godard observes the clinging to ancient, childish tendencies as either a feature or a bug of life in the new millennium. Male lead Gédéon (Kamel Abdeli) reveals an endless fascination with his own poop, giving the film a dose of comic relief along with a symbolic summation of our era’s excessive introspection. Goodbye to Language manages to be entertaining - by Godard standards anyway - while remaining typically disorienting. And perhaps that’s the film’s thesis in simplest terms: despite the technology and connectedness of western society, no one really knows what the hell is going on.