Review: Breathless

Blu-ray: Breathless (1983)

In this remake of Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), Richard Gere plays Jesse, a thief who seems to have a preternatural knack for stealing classic 1950s convertibles. He’s also annoying. Full of jerky energy, always talking to himself, or gazing at himself in the mirror. But then, despite the beautifully full mouthed and mostly bare breasted Valérie Kaprisky being the love interest, this film is all about Jesse/Gere. You can see where Quentin Tarrantino got his idea for Clarence Worly, and dare I say…David Lynch may have got Sailor Ripley from? Wearing tacky 1950s throw off clothes, Gere’s Jesse is obsessed with ‘The Killer’ – Jerry Lee Lewis, and sings along to the films main tune Breathless.

On the way from Vegas to L.A. to see Monica (he raps in the car about her, sets her up to be peachy, the ultimate woman, she must be something realllllllly special), speeding, he tries to escape from a traffic cop, and after running down an embankment, somehow shoots the policeman. Now this bothered me. His gun is on the seat of the car, yet the cop is shot dead and if any of you are familiar with this film can you explain to me .. how?
Jesse ends up in L.A. and finally finds Monica.

One thing that struck me about Gere’s performance in this film is that he actually ACTS in it. Yes there are a few of those ‘stares into distance, thinks of something, shakes head’ moments, but here we have Gere at the top of his game. He’s playing an obnoxious, damn sexy yet deluded character. Someone who thinks if he just ignores reality (cop killer) then things will get better. But the way he plays it, he knows he’s a caricature of himself, he plays Jesse as a knowing arsehole. And he relishes it. It really is my favourite Gere performance. He is artificial and his surroundings are equally artificial with visual emphasis on neon signs, giant donuts, bus stop bench ads for the Hollywood wax museum, and his clothes are a sight to behold. Considering he’s on the run from the police you’d think he would tone it down a bit but nope.

So what about Monica? Well apart from the odd nipple glimpse, her full mouth and youthful beauty don’t matter. She is unimportant. There was a point where I wondered if she was in fact, real, and not a figment of Jesse’s imagination. She is a fantasy, Jesse’s fantasy, and this is all about the boy. The camera’s gaze is constantly on Gere, his body, his eyes, his full mouth. In fact is any of it real? Or is this some scenario playing out in a deluded man’s head?

Much was made of this being a remake of the classic À Bout de Soufflé, and I am not ashamed to admit that although that is lauded as a classic, it’s boring, and incredibly dated, and… up its own arse.

I really liked this film, and given the choice between Godard and this Jim McBride version, I’d pick this every time.

Breathless is released on 26th March 2018 and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Second Sight Films via Aim Publicity.