Band of Outsiders


For the casual observer, Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders may as well be titled The Eyes of Anna Karina. The famously radical director’s follow-up to the hit film Contempt isn’t a favourite of American movie buffs for its politics or its thematic rigour. Instead, it’s a veritable spoof of film noir–at times a near-farce–involving a couple of small-time schemers who take their cues from Hollywood. Though Band of Outsiders is thought of as one of Godard’s most accessible works, it’s also one of his most dissonant. It’s a gritty crime drama wrapped around a light romance; a breezy comedy shot through with intimations of the geopolitical landscape of the 1960s; an homage to U.S. culture that incidentally imagines the decline of the American empire. In Godard’s body of work, Band of Outsiders–its story based on a novel by American mystery writer Dolores Hitchens–can be read as the connective tissue between the bones of Breathless, which is full of loving references to American cinema and pulp fiction, and the later Weekend and Tout va bien, which are explicitly critical of western culture in general and capitalism in particular.

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