DVD REVIEWS: Masculin Féminin

The Criterion Collection
Movie •••½ Picture/Sound •••• Extras •••½
At first, it seems odd that this simple, innocent film was given 1965's equivalent of an NC-17 rating. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays a pollster who interviews teenagers to learn their views on clothes, sex, children, politics, Pepsi, and war. Meanwhile, his girlfriend (Chantal Goya) pursues a career as a pop star. A closer look reveals that, within this casual narrative, Jean-Luc Godard planted a complex critique of consumerist society - and a depiction of '60s youth so honest it completely alarmed adults. As the trailer put it, "Of course, minors under the age of 18 are not admitted, because it's about them."

Masculin Féminin has that gorgeous look of the best French New Wave films. Images of deep, velvety blacks and dazzling, bright whites collide on immensely detailed rain-slicked streets and shiny-bottled cafés. The crisp mono soundtrack chaotically combines pop tunes, ad-libbed dialogue, and background turmoil. Extras help to understand the film, and they include interviews with Goya from 1965 and 2005, discussions between reminiscing critics, and footage of Godard directing. [NR] French (with English subtitles), Dolby Digital mono; full frame (1.33:1); dual layer.