There are only two ways to describe the Jean-Luc Godard film, Weekend: love or hate. There is no middle ground for a film such as this. Easily one of the most challenging cinematic experiences, Godard goes out of his way to create a film that is the complete opposite of everything a commercial film should be. Full of political commentary, literary references, film parody, and comments on society and consumerism, Weekend is not a film for the lighthearted viewer. One must be prepared for a film like this, and some may never be prepared.
The very loose narrative of the film follows Corinne (Mireille Darc) and her husband Roland (Jean Yanne). Both of them are having an affair and plan on killing the other. Before they can deal with each other, they have to make sure that Corinne’s father dies, leaving his fortune to Corinne. As they begin their drive to visit her father, the world around them starts to fall apart. An endless string of traffic jams, bloody bodies on the side of the road, artistic hitchhikers, and finally a cannibalistic group of revolutionaries, threaten the lives of Corinne and Roland.
It doesn’t take very long for the film to test a viewers patience. Early in the film is an eight minute tracking shot of a traffic jam. The audience slowly follows Corinne and Roland as they attempt to pass a lengthy string of cars. At first it’s just unhappy motorists, then things start getting very strange. Some people are playing chess on the road while their car sits crumpled against a tree. Another car is completely upside down. When we finally see the bloody accident that has been stopping traffic, a viewer may wonder whether they should feel badly for the dead family, or happy that they don’t have to watch the traffic jam any longer. This is only the first example of how difficult it can be to sit through the film.
The plot that the film is following becomes a secondary thought throughout much of the movie. What started out rather straightforward suddenly becomes a series of vignettes. One scene features an extended close-up of one character while another character offscreen recites a very political monologue. Scenes fade in, then out, and back in again very quickly. Random intertitles pop up, some referencing authors and their works, that seem to have little to do with what we’re watching. It’s very often, quite difficult to follow what is happening or why.
For viewers who are willing to dig very deeply into a film, turning up symbolic meanings and obscure references, Weekend will give you plenty of opportunities. This is less a film you enjoy and more a film you study. Some may find it very interesting and exciting, others may find it to be extremely boring and pointless, but there won’t be any in between.