“Mommy, what’s language?”
“Language is the house man lives in.”
Seems like a game-changer for Godard. His features just previous – Masculin Feminin, Pierrot le fou, Alphaville – have character-driven stories bursting with related (and unrelated) ideas. For this one, the ideas finally overwhelm the story, and it ends up more an essay film than a narrative, moreso even than the later Weekend (with which 2 or 3 Things shares a color/visual scheme). I haven’t seen Made In USA or La Chinoise, released between this one and Weekend, but it seems this marked the beginning of a new period, a brief fascination with social and economic issues before politics took total hold instead, but either way leaving behind the manic film-love of the first half of the 1960’s.
Nice of commentary-guy Adrian Martin to explain what is happening in what little narrative remains: a day in the life of a consumerist woman (Marina Vlady of Chimes at Midnight) coming from new high-rise suburban apartments to Paris to work as a prostitute. She speaks in nonsequitur inner thoughts and philosophies, often addressing the camera (as do the other characters), and Godard whispers narration, throws up title cards and takes total sidetracks (incl. pillow shots of road construction). Red/white/blue colors are prominent, as are images from commercial products.
Vlady: “Something can make me cry, but the cause of my tears can’t be found in the traces they leave on my cheeks. By this I mean you can describe everything that happens when I do something without necessarily indicating what makes me do what I do.”
The universe in a cup of coffee:
Vlady at left, with Anny Duperey of Stavisky:
Interminable sidetrack to a cafe where Juliet Berto and some dude have ineffective conversation, a couple of guys quote randomly from huge stacks of books, a prize winning poet converses with a young fan, and a woman ceaselessly plays a clattering pinball game.
Movie posters seen: Keaton’s The General (hung upside down), Ugetsu.
Mentioned: Nanook of the North.
The universe in a cigarette end:
A. Taubin says it’s also about “the city of Paris, which in the mid-1960s was at the center of de Gaulle’s project to modernize France. 2 or 3 Things depicts the violation of both the city and Juliette, who has bought into the Gaullist economy.”
The trailer has scenes interspersed with titles (“Her: the cruelty of neocapitalism… Her: the modern call girl… Her: the death of human beauty”), and is completely silent.