Keep Your Right Up

Basically an episodic comedy, Jean-Luc Godard’s Soigne ta droite (1986, 82 min.), a French-Swiss coproduction, features Godard himself as the comic lead, rehearsals of the rock group Rita Mitsouko, a good many gags (some involving golf and travel), and a lot of cameos from well-known French actors, including Jane Birkin, Bernadette Lafont, and Jacques Villeret. The biggest surprise here though is Godard’s modification of his own persona: in contrast to the grumpy, would-be sages of First Name: Carmen and King Lear, his benign and ethereal character is positively Keatonian, with echoes of Tati’s Monsieur Hulot as well. (Early in the film, he executes a surprisingly deft Keaton-like gag of diving through a car window.) The main comic inspiration, by Godard’s own admission, is Jerry Lewis — specifically the airplane sequence in Cracking Up, though what Godard does with it seems even more quizzically eccentric than the model. Godard is also seen grasping a copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, which may provide some clues about what he’s up to. This isn’t one of Godard’s best features, though it certainly has its moments, and I much prefer it to his more recent For Ever Mozart. (JR)

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