The original show about nothing, A Married Woman walks us through fragments of a day in the life of Charlotte (Macha Méril), a young wife torn between two lovers: her practical husband (Philippe Leroy) and her passionate, intellectual paramour (Bernard Noël). Apparently not in a hurry to choose one over the other, she’s thrown into a pickle when her doctor informs her she’s pregnant and she realizes that she doesn’t know which one is the father.
Heavy on closeups and dialogue, A Married Woman is thoroughly Modernist: more a treatise than a story, it delves into subjects like relationships, love, sex, morality, and the differences bewteen men and women through conversations that are practically interviews. Jean-Luc Godard stated that this film “attacks a certain mode of life; that of air conditioning, of the prefabricated, of advertising.” His sentiment is evident in all three yuppiesque main characters: they seem detached and adrift, oblivious to the impact their actions have on those around them. A Married Woman is sensual but not sexy, intimate but not warm, critical but not exactly moralistic, and clever but not always interesting.
It’s not all dour, though. Rita Maiden as the couple’s chatty housekeeper adds a priceless air of levity. A scene revealing Charlotte’s thoughts as she eavesdrops on two girls discussing sex at a cafe is hilarious if kinda mean. Gorgeous shots of midcentury Paris play like moving postcards. The little stuff here kept me engaged. I appreciate what Godard was getting at, but I found his execution ultimately underwhelming.
(Gene Siskel Film Center) C+