Adieu Godard
R1 - America - Film Movement
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (16th November 2022).
The Film

Every week, Odian village elder Ananda (Choudhury Bikash) rides several miles out of town to purchase illegal DVDs of imported pornography to feed his addiction. The other village elders Jaga (Shankar Basu Mallik) and Harideb (Choudhury Jayaprakash Das) are willing to overlook such shameful behavior because the three of them make a regular night of the screenings. Less okay with Ananda's compulsion are his wife (Mahua Maharana) and daughter Shilpa (Sudhasri Madhusmita) who hopes to escape to college in the city, seeking confidence in handsome mama's boy van driver Joe (Dipanwit Dashmohapatra). When one of the village troublemakers sees Shilpa and Joe romping in the hay, he goes to the villagers and accuses her of immorality, challenging Ananda's authority. With no support from Jaga and Harideb, Ananda choses to send Shilpa away to school rather than face a humiliating punishment of being stripped and paraded around the village.

Eventually, the three elders reconcile and the accusations against Shilpa fade from memory. Other things have changed in the meantime, however, with the Indian police cracking down on immoral and illegal operations, Ananda's supplier of illegal DVDs has gone legit and gifts him with a final free disc. Unfortunately, Breathless turns out not to be a porno but "French nonsense" which angers Jaga and Harideb. Ananda, however, is intrigued by the thought of a director trying to do something entirely different than porno or Bollywood. Ananda is immediately driven to seek out more Jean-Luc Godard films, further alienating him from his friends. Having come to the conclusion that people no longer use their brains, Ananda hits upon the idea to throw a Godard film festival for the village, hoping to foster new ideas and elevate the village culture. Harideb believes the villagers will not go for the idea while Ananda is able badger a reluctant Jaga to help him along with village simpleton Jatin (Swastik Choudhury) and film-loving thief Tutu (Sumit Panda). Will the villagers share Ananda's sense of wonder or will his evolved tastes further erode his authority?

Seeming on paper like a warm comedy designed for film festivals and foreign audiences who want to gawk at Indian actors mugging for the camera, Adieu Godard actually has more serious and complex themes to explore; unfortunately, it does not do them entirely well. After a first act setup shot entirely in monochrome scope that seems more Truffaut-circa-The 400 Blows than Breathless, the film elides the actual depiction of Ananda's growing Godard obsession which could actually be the fetishistic transference from pornography to another genre out of guilt for his wife's depression in favor of color footage in which Shilpa tries to describe the "story" to her film professor who does not believe her when she suggests that country people are more open-minded. He suggests that she make the idea into a film and she continues telling the story to boyfriend Pablo who tries to impose his own twists on the story, believing her then-virginal self not to have understood some of what she saw.

The story takes a dark turn as, instead of being open, the villagers who do not understand and are made to feel stupid by what they are watching attack it and attack the messenger lead by the very villager who accused Shilpa of immorality who then calls Ananda a sinner and bans Godard (the pronunciation of which he stutters over, referring to him alternately as "Godra" and "God"). Indeed, there is a sort of "narrative chauvinism" from Shilpa's professor questioning her interpretation and her boyfriend trying to impose on her interpretation while also being hurt when admits to steering the narrative to manipulate his emotions like she wanted to with the subplot of the doctor's affair to even Ananda himself manages to be both a disparaged pervert and respected elder who caves to village opinion and sends his daughter away rather than stand up for him (making sense of Shilpa saying she did not learn to love him over his expanded interests but just to "hate him less"). Discussion within the dialogue of these ideas is too "on the nose" with Shilpa turning the tables on her boyfriend and father falling flat, and a chunk of the third acting giving way to a music montage that seems to be Shilpa imagining an aspect of her story in terms of popular cinema; seeming not to excoriate the sort of movies in which viewers do not think they are using their brains but to inquire for meaning beneath the gloss. Ultimately, Adieu Godard may be intended as an affectionate homage to the late filmmaker, but an interesting work nonetheless.

Video

The digitally-lensed Adieu Godard looks quite strong as standard definition allows on Film Movement's progressive, anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen DVD, revealing some nice detail in some sprawling landscape shots while later color scenes seem to use saturation for a sense of depth and contrast. Dark night exteriors do have a tendency to flatten in the shadows, but the economic filmmaker tend to frame these sequences tight on the actors.

Audio

The sole audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track in Odia, Hindu, French, and English with all of the spoken dialogue within the film subtitled in English and some of the Godard clip dialogue subtitled in English on the video monitors (suggesting the provenance of the illegal DVDs within the film).

Extras

The only extras are the film's theatrical trailer (1:35) and trailers for three other Film Movement titles.

Packaging

Unlike most Film Movement titles that include a blurb on why they chose the film and a statement from the director on the reverse of the cover, Adieu Godard comes in a standard black keep case and the inner side of the cover insert is blank.

Overall

Ultimately, Adieu Godard may be intended as an affectionate homage to the late filmmaker, but an interesting work nonetheless.

 


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