Jean-Luc Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her is a masterstroke that takes an honest look at modern western life. The film, which takes places over 24 hours, revolves around a middle-class housewife and mother, Juliette (Marina Vlady), in suburban Paris. Since her husband is content with their social standing, she spends afternoons prostituting to pay for the material things that will supposedly make her happy. During daytime hours, Juliette leaves her kids with a brothel owner/babysitter and goes about the business of turning tricks for money.
The stifling environment they live in -- an isolated, nondescript, concrete high-rise development -- partially fuels her dissatisfaction. Cut off from the lively and intellectually stimulating world of Paris, she looks for an escape and sense of purpose through consumption. Advertisements for household products, clothing, appliances, vacations and services are featured prominently throughout the film, where the world seems to be inundated with a staggering number of consumer choices.
The half-dead way she goes about life is reflects the isolating and stifling mediocrity that goes on around her. Most of the women she encounters are overqualified for their career fields. The majority of them are overworked and underpaid and many have accepted their depressing fates. Despite their complexity and wealth of interests, the women find themselves“prostituting” in dead-end jobs, while others actually work as hookers to make ends meet.
The men in the film are equally dissatisfied with their lives and careers. They immerse themselves in politics, technology, sports, and pseudo-intellectualism, or resort to paying hookers to act out sexual fetishes and fantasies (such as the American war correspondent who requires prostitutes to run around with flight bags on their heads before engaging in a threesome).
On the surface, this film seems similar to features such as Luis Buñuel’s Belle De Jour and Godard’s own Vivre Sa Vie. However, what sets 2 or 3 Things apart from those features is the extensive commentary on capitalism, consumerist culture, modern life, politics and communication.
The film features a whispered narrator (voiced by Godard), whose pointed commentary ponders the meaning of life, instead of solely advancing the story. Moreover, the characters break the fourth wall to convey highly intriguing, and often devastating, mini-monologues, where they discuss their life stories, innermost thoughts, desires, fears, interests, jobs, etc., in a brutally honest way they’re unable to communicate to the other characters. This plot device works beautifully, as it brings into focus the way our minds work in social interactions where we appear cool and detached as our thoughts are racing a mile-a-minute. It also highlights the wall we build up around ourselves in the fear of having our desires and insecurities exposed or misunderstood.
The film features is peppered with a number of quotable quotes. Critiques about the joining of political and corporate interests to reshape cities and countries are more relevant today than ever, as urban areas across the globe are being reshaped into banal, commodity-driven and culturally-devoid playgrounds, where every insecurity can be pacified, for a price. Additionally, the film’s discussion of our ability to forsake interpersonal relationships in favor of technology is even more penetrating in the digital age. One can only look at the film’s world -- as well as the present society we live in -- and wonder what’s it all for?
Arguably one of the best features in Godard’s filmography, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her features standout performances from Marina Vlady, Joseph Gerhard and Juliet Berto.
Discussing fashion in a film that brutally critiques materialism seems -- for lack of a better word -- idiotic. However, as with all Godard features, the beautiful cinematography and wardrobe styling are second to none, so the clothing must be analyzed.
The bold prints, patterns and colors featured in the film have a timelessness style that will brighten any Spring or Summer season. Pinstriped raincoats, brightly-colored pencil skirts, vintage flight bags, and gradient-tint, full-rim glasses are prominently displayed in the film, offering a myriad of inspired ways to finish off your look.