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Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey

Starring: Sarah Adler, Nade Dieu, Rony Kramer, Simon Eine

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

The latest film from acclaimed French director Jean-Luc Godard, NOTRE MUSIQUE is a curious blend of abstract cinema, documentary and fiction. It’s divided into three sections, or ‘kingdoms’ (namely ‘Hell, ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Heaven’), each very distinct, and certainly in the case of ‘Hell’, pretty hard to watch.

This first section is a long montage of war atrocities, blending clips of documentaries and narrative films. It’s powerful stuff, and the relentlessness of the violent imagery (which might not look out of place in the footage Alex is forced to sit through in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) evokes an immediate sense of despair at the state of the human race.

A narrative appears for the first time only in the second act, ‘Purgatory’, in which Godard himself and various other literary figures converge on Sarajevo for a literary conference, where they talk about their hopes and fears for peace. There’s plenty of focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but both here and in the final part ‘Heaven’, which follows a young journalist involved in a suicide bomb attack, issues are raised but not fully pursued. The result is a continuing sense of hopelessness, which might have be more captivating if Godard had wrapped it in a full narrative with rounded characters. Instead we’re given no more than passing snapshots, leaving a strong aftertaste of frustrated and unfulfilled promise.

NOTRE MUSIQUE is the sort of film that can’t help but make you think, but despite running at only 79 minutes, it manages to feel rambling and, even, lazy. Godard’s work remains intriguing, though, for its delight in pioneering and rule-breaking, and if you’re looking for a very different anti-war voice this film will do the trick.

4 out of 6 stars